Monday, June 29, 2015

2015 Master Bedroom Trends In Custom Homes

2015- Master Bedrooms trends

Now that we are well into the 2015 construction season we are seeing the newer trends in custom homes and also the longer running trends that have been consistent over the last several years. These are the trends that I am observing in not only the homes that we are building but also what is being used in the market place as a whole.

Master bedrooms

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

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

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

Pocket doors are the most popular trend for the entrance into the master walk-in closets, they are space saving, the can help hide the door and for the most part they will be left open until there will be guests touring the home.

Master bedrooms have become master suite. The suites are bathroom, walk-in closet, bedroom and usually a sitting area with chairs, coffee tables and sometime couches.

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

Hallways in master suites have become very normal with the overall space of the suites having become so much larger.

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

Carpets are still the most wanted flooring in master bedrooms.

Wall hung televisions with all the wiring buried in the walls and full entertainment packages have become the norm as more people are looking to keep everything simple and clean.

Coffered and Cathedral ceilings to help give the master suite some luxury and the effect of defining the space from the rest of the home.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wood floors are making a comeback in master bedrooms, taking over where carpets have always been more prevalent. This trend is because of master bedrooms being on the main floor of homes that they are trying to match up with the rest of the flooring in the home.

Stone and wood feature walls placed behind the bed, floor to ceiling. The stone is usually a manufactured product.

More lighting is being added, pot lights, chandeliers and wall sconces. All on different switching to allow the option for setting the mode. Whether the lighting is mounted on the sides of headboard for wall sconces or in the ceiling to light future art work more lighting that is able to be controlled separately is what is wanted.

With master bedroom becoming suites (bedroom, closet, bathroom and sitting area) architects are placing them at the end of the home giving one whole end of the new home to the master suite. This means that these suites have 2 to 3 outside walls and usually they have no bedrooms around them. They are literally cut off from the rest of the house maximizing the privacy for the homeowners whether it is from children, grandchildren, grandparents or guests.

The master suites have basically become refuges from the outside world even from their own homes. They are made to be a living quarters that is inside a living quarters. Privacy is now at a premium compared what master bedrooms where previously considered which is a place to sleep and change.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Friday, June 26, 2015

We Have A Crack in Our Block Foundation, Do You Think The Waterproofing Failed?


We had our foundation wall replaced, a couple of years later we now see a vertical crack near the corner of the wall do you think the waterproofing has failed?


Most likely the crack is not caused by the waterproofing failing. The only way that you would end up with a crack in the wall like your describing is if the waterproofing failed, water penetrated the block cavity, the temperature dropped, the water froze and broke the block wall.

My question would be why did you have your foundation wall replaced to begin with, if the last wall failed and you had it replaced maybe the real issue was never addressed.

It’s more likely that something has shifted or moved in your foundation. Either the footing has moved underneath the block wall or the backfill is heavy and is pushing on the wall and that is causing stress cracks in the wall.

Because it is a vertical crack near the corner of the building it makes me lean toward that something has moved or shifted in your foundation, either the footing or the wall it’s self.

Before you go and have the foundation excavated or re-waterproofed or have the crack in the block repaired you should have someone investigate why the crack has occurred. This will probably require you to have the foundation dug out around the crack but there are other ways to diagnose foundation issues.

Talk to an expert, you will probably have to pay someone to find out the problem and pay more to have it fixed.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Have you ever built a chalet near Blue Mountain, Alpine ski club?


Have you ever built a chalet near Blue Mountain, Alpine ski club?


Yes, we built a beautiful Chalet near the base of Alpine Ski Club. The home is built with dark wood pre-painted siding on the outside. There are painted wood shingles in the gables and the front of the house has a timber frame entrance and porch.

The back of the house has an expansive composite deck with views of the Ski hills and a hot tub that is tucked away on the side of the building out of the way of the winds. The backyard is wonderfully landscaped with a lowered sitting area complete with a fire pit and a waterfall that looks like it flows in the basement windows.

The inside of the chalet is of the highest quality and was built with an extreme eye to detail, fit and finish. The chalet is open concept with the kitchen, dining room and living room all linked without walls to block the view or impede the flow of traffic.

The kitchen is bright with large windows facing the mountain; it has a green granite counter top with a raised wood counter top on the island where breakfast is consumed.

The great room along with the kitchen and dining room have cathedral ceilings that are solid tongue and groove pine with fir beams that are all stained to match. The great room has a soaring fireplace with natural stone and a large gas fireplace.

The house has the large master bedroom on the main floor with 3 more bedrooms upstairs and another two bedrooms in the completely finished basement.

There are 5 bathrooms in the house along with a separate laundry room that is also home to the pantry and beer fridge.

There is a large mud room with custom ski racks right beside the garage that is large enough to hold all the families outdoor equipment.

The floors of the home are antique reclaimed Elm.

Off the great room is a media room where movies are watched by the whole family.

This is one of the nicest homes that we ever built.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Do I Have To Waterproof The Footings?


We had the wall of our foundation replaced, they waterproofed the new wall but not the footing, I'm worried that this will cause the foundation to leak?


You actually do not have to waterproof the footing of a foundation, you only have to waterproof the walls. The reason for this is because the footings are actually below the concrete  floor of your basement and below the concrete floor of the basement there is allowed to be water or moisture. The line in which you want to stop the moisture is the underside of the concrete floor, this line is actually four to six inches above the top of your concrete footings.

As long as the waterproofing is applied so that it stops where the block wall meets the footing or within an inch of it then you should be fine, the wall is waterproofed. If someone was to waterproof over the footing it wouldn't do any harm but it really isn't needed.

The level of the waterproofing should extend up the wall until it reaches the height of the backfill for the wall. The top soil that the landscaper puts over the backfill can be above it if you don't want to look at waterproofing line.

When you waterproof you need to make sure that you go around every pipe that comes out of the foundation, these are usually the area's that produce leaks, pipes actually proceed through the entire wall so if the waterproofing is not right then water has a path through the block wall right into the house.

Since you said that the wall of your foundation was replaced you also have to make sure that your waterproofing lapses over the older foundation a couple of feet, this will ensure that there is no other leaks in that area.

If there is a leak in your foundation it's not coming from the footing.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

We are renovating a 100 year old house; can we use the old existing doors?


We are renovating a 100 year old house; can we use the old existing doors?


Yes you can use the existing doors from the house. There are a couple of things that you should realize through about using the existing doors;

Re-using existing doors will save you money because you don’t have to buy new doors, but it will cost you money in the labour end. It takes a lot longer to hang an old door instead of hanging a new door.

Older doors are not usually square or straight. You need to be prepared that the door will not look perfect when it is re-hung.

Prepare to see gaps around the door. This is because these doors have been cut and planed and trimmed over there long life and getting the jambs tight to them might be impossible.

Re-painting or re-staining these doors will cost more than painting a new door and it will not look as good either.

The locking mechanisms might have to be replaced as well. Eventually they fail or have pieces missing from them.

Sometimes a door can look like its in good shape and then when the carpenter starts to work on it the door falls apart. This means that you wasted money on labour for a door that you aren’t able to use.

If you end up not being able to re-use all the doors and you end up short a couple of doors you are going to have a hard time finding replacement doors that will match. Not only will you have a hard to time finding old doors that will match and work in the door frames that are waiting for a door but it is extremely hard to find new doors that will look appropriate along side the older existing doors.

Remember that it’s a wonderful idea to re-use things like doors but everything comes at a cost, everything that you are usually able to save and re-use will cost you more money in the labour it takes to re-install it so that it looks proper.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

2015 Basement Trends In Custom Homes

2015 Basement Trends

As the cost of construction continues to rise people are looking to maximize the available square footage in their homes. This means that they are looking to achieve more livable space without having to go through the process of adding an addition to the home. One of the easiest ways to do this is to renovate the basement of the home so that it is an enjoyable place to enjoy for the entire family.

Like everything in construction basement finishing’s have gone through a lot of different trends over the decades and that has not changed in recent years.

Basement Trends

Wiring basements with as many potlights as possible. Potlights work really well in basements because a lot of basements have lower than normal ceilings.

Creating a home theatre. Home theatres work best when there is a limited or no light. Most basements have small windows that can easily be covered.

Wood panels. Instead of drywall a lot of people are installing wooding paneling or trim on board. This finishing material is more hardy to moisture then drywall and will take a little more of a beating.

Use lighter or brighter paint colours. This gives the room the feel of a more open feeling.

Hardwood flooring is a big trend now in basements. Usually lighter in colour then new engineered flooring stands up to moisture and damp basement conditions better then ever.

Gas fireplaces. These help keep those cold basements more comfortable and give the feeling of a friendlier welcoming place.

Kitchens. Kitchens are returning to basements as places for people to fuel up instead of having to go back up the stairs and into the main kitchen.

Along with kitchens bathrooms are being installed in basements. With more technology being invented that helps toilets and sinks pump waste water up to the sewer exhaust lines the ability to install bathrooms in basements is becoming easier.

More homes are being built with either full walkouts for basements or with below grade entrances. This allows the basement to function more like a regular part of the house and less like the place that you store your Christmas decorations.

Wine cellars. Complicated wine rooms with climate control work the best in places like basements that are already cooler and have limited natural light. A lot of money is being spent on these rooms as people look for somewhere to hold their expensive wine collections.

In floor heating that is installed right in the concrete under the finished floor has become quiet popular. The advanced technology allows multiple climate zones so that every part of the basement can be the appropriate temperature.

Whatever you decide to do in your basement whether it is a new build or a renovation make sure that you take your time to make the appropriate decisions on what you want in your basement and how you want it to look and feel. This could raise the property value of your home more than the cost of the basement remodel.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Water In The Way Of Waterproofing The Foundation


We dug out the foundation of the house to re-waterproof it but we have hit a water table that is about 4 to 6 inches deep, with this water in the way we can't finish the waterproofing. What should we do?


Well you basically have no choice you have to remove the water or you won't be able to properly finish the waterproofing on your foundation. The most important part of your foundation that needs to be properly waterproofed is the bottom 4 feet of it. That 4 to 6 inches is important and will almost certainly allow water to enter the home if not waterproofed.

Here are your options to remove the water;

  1. Pump it out. Rent yourself an electric or gas powered "trash" pump. These pumps are made to suck up not only water but dirt and mud. Since you say that you think its like a water table then don't be surprised if any water you pump out comes back almost immediately. You might have to run the pumps for hours or even a day or two before the hole is dry enough for you to do the waterproofing. Even if the pump removes the water fairly quickly you should be leaving the pump running while you are working. The best way to get the water out is to dig a hole that is deeper then the foundation and footings, this will allow the water to run down into the pump location removing even the last bit of water.
  2. Dig a drain line. Since you already have the equipment onsite (because you dug out the foundation) then you should dig yourself a drain line. Either dig the drain line to a ditch or a pond or a lower section of lawn to allow the water to naturally drain away so that you can properly waterproof. Even if you don't have anywhere that is lower you can dig a drain line to a location where you dig a deeper pit. This will allow the water to naturally drain away and can even be used as a pump out location.
  3. Since you have a lot of water around the outside of the building then you must not have a proper weeping system that is connected to a sump pump. You should install weepers and stone around the outside of the building and install well tiles with a sump pump connected to it. This will pump out the water and will also keep the foundation dry going into the future.
I can't say enough how important it is to get every inch of your foundation waterproofed, get the water out and keep it out until the job is completed.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Make Sure Your Safe Even On A Sales Call


Safety in construction is not just for your construction sites where you have your employee’s working. It also applies to anywhere you go or do for your company.

For example; if you are going to a potential client’s home to measure up for the quoting of future work then you need to make sure that the same safety standards apply.

If you require equipment then you should bringing your own and not relying on the homeowner to supply you with some. Every homeowner has ladders, but that doesn’t mean that you should trust them or allow the homeowner to set them up themselves. More than once have I and friends of mine been put into a situation where there could have been a fall or a serious injury because of a ladder that was either borrowed from a homeowner or set up by the homeowner.

If you have to go up on top a ladder then you need to ask the homeowner to hold the ladder for you
while you are up there or when you are coming down. If the homeowner cannot be trusted or cannot be relied on to be there then you should be bringing someone along with you to make sure that the bottom of the ladder stays secure.

If you believe that the situation that you have to put yourself in is not worth the risk without further equipment or in better weather conditions then you should have no trouble telling the person that you will come back another day when the situation can be made safer for everyone involved.

Remember that your health is worth more than the any job that you would be pricing that you would be putting at risk.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Friday, June 12, 2015

I want to replace the windows in my home made out of stone, is there anything I need to know?


I want to replace the windows in my home made out of stone, is there anything I need to know?


There are several things that you need to know about replacing windows in a stone exterior;

1. You are going to have to order windows that fit the exact opening of the stone not the hole in the inside of the window. You want to be able to install the window and then caulk around the outside to the existing stone work. If you don’t get the right size of windows then you will be in for a lot of work finding a way to fill in the gaps around the outside.

2. It’s really expensive and a lot of work to try and increase the size of a window from the original opening. Doing this requires stone masons and they are a lot more expensive then windows installers.

3. Make sure that the window manufacture knows that they are to be installed in a stone exterior. The window will come setup differently than if it was a new built home or even a wood sided home.

4. Have the supplier of the windows come out and measure the windows themselves, this is the best way to guarantee that they will fit.

5. It’s usually best of you don’t get a pre-installed jamb extension on the windows. Because the home has a stone exterior means that the window will usually require a deeper then normal jamb.

Most jamb extensions come as a standard depth, it’s better to install your own jamb that way it will have the best fit.

Depending on how rough the stone work is you could have difficulty installing the windows from the outside of the home as some stones might stick out more into the opening. Because of this it’s always better to let a professional install your windows when dealing with a stone exterior. A professional that has done this kind of job before will ensure that you end up with the best installation possible.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Owner’s Role as Project Leader During a Renovation

Owner’s Role as Project Leader

Today’s Remodelers manage numerous construction materials and methods, coordinate many trade partners and suppliers, and deal with a variety of building codes and regulations. The complexity of these arrangements may distance homeowners from the actual remodeling process, and can cause uncertainty about where they fit in.
In fact, a homeowner's role during construction is more important than ever. The homeowner is still, ultimately, a leader in the project. By gaining a solid understanding of the building process, homeowners can provide an example of professionalism to the rest of the team.
Consider the following ‘leadership training’ tips that help define a homeowner’s role on a project:
  • Education is key. It pays to learn about the building process and gain an understanding and respect for the pace, phases, and materials that go into a project’s construction. (That is one of our purposes in offering this newsletter.) This knowledge helps the client communicate with the remodeler and provides confidence as the project moves through stages of completion.
  • Meet deadlines. Remodelers set deadlines for certain decisions so that materials and labor will arrive on the job site at a certain point during construction, enabling steady progress and on-time completion. Accordingly, builders need homeowners to agree on reasonable deadlines for decisions they have to make, such as selecting cabinets or flooring, and then stick to them. Meeting these deadlines helps keep the construction schedule on track, and sets a good example for the builder and his suppliers and subcontractors.
  • Respect the change order process. Make sure the contract includes a formal process for managing change orders, which are decisions made (or changed) after an agreed-upon deadline. Most projects will have some changes, but they always cost money and often impact the schedule. It may take time to remove one product, wait for delivery of the new product, and install it. As professional remodelers, we do our best to accommodate requested changes. For their part, homeowners need to understand the impact a change order has on costs and the schedule.
  • Communicate. Communication is critical, so we ask our clients to share concerns, issues, and ideas. Come into the remodeling process with an open mind and feel free to ask questions. It’s best to keep a list and present questions during a scheduled meeting or on-site conversation with the builder, but an occasional ad-hoc phone call (during business hours) is fine.
As a professional remodeler, we are proud of our business operations and systems. We partner with each of our clients. We understand and respect the relationship we have with our homeowners. Our savvy customers meet us part of the way, by educating themselves, sticking to deadlines, and asking quality questions.

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

Sunday, June 7, 2015

What is balloon framing?


What is balloon framing?


Balloon framing is a type of framing that was popular around the turn of the century before modern building techniques and technologies came into the construction industry.

Balloon framing is when the walls of the home are constructed with stud walls that start at the foundation of the home (the first floor) and run continuously up vertically until they meet the roof framing. This can mean that the studs that run vertically are one piece and could be 20 feet long with no breaks or joints.

The modern way to build walls are to construct with wood studs that are tall enough to make the ceiling height, then the floor is framed on top of these studs. Then you frame the stud walls on top of that framed floor until you reach the roof. The roof framing sits on top of the second story walls.

Balloon framing with it’s one piece studs running up to the roof framing are constructed first, then the floors are built after it, you attached the floor joist for the 1st and 2nd floor framing to the side of the one piece studs, usually they are just nailed to the side of the studs.

In balloon framing they never used headers over windows or doors; this is because most of the weight was transferred straight to the foundation from the roof through the one piece studs. Older homes were typically built with small openings to minimize the risk of having too much weight above the opening with the lack of headers. If you see larger openings that are original to an older home then they typically have the windows built into the home so that they help transfer weight through them.

Balloon framed walls usually are re-enforced with  1 inch wood material nailed to the inside of the alls and also to the outside of the building. This is because they didn’t have or use plywood at the time. Walls where then covered with lath and plaster, with all of this material it usually reduced the amount of movement in the walls to a minimum.

When renovating a home with balloon framing you have to be very careful that you support the weight of what’s above if you plan to make a bigger opening and have to install a header.

The best thing to do is to hire a professional to do the work so that nobody gets hurt or you don’t permanently damage a part of the home.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

New Hiring Trends in residential construction for 2015

New Hiring Trends in residential construction for 2015

This year’s start to the construction season was a carbon copy of last year’s; an abnormally long cold winter delayed the construction industry from ramping up into full gear. In fact the start of the season wasn’t just delayed but it was almost nonexistent with homeowners having almost no motivation to start any projects.  It wasn’t until later into the spring that the phones starting ringing and plans started being submitted to townships for new homes and renovations.

This left a lot of people looking for work in the late winter to early spring, a lot of those people are still looking for full time positions with companies.

The residential construction industry overall has changed a lot in the last decade, companies are hiring less people overall then they ever did before. Construction companies are moving towards fewer employees and filling the gap with more and more sub contractors. This makes the construction company more of a management company then an actual construction company.

The reason for the move away from employees is because of the rising cost of employee’s with safety training, benefits and plethora of other costs. This drives the overhead of the company up and eventually makes them too expensive to be competitive. Homeowners have come to expect lower prices which means that the only way to compete is to hire sub-contractors.

Where this trend affects hiring trends is that young people with little to no experience cannot get hired by a general contractor and enrolled in the apprentice program. This will have a major affect going into the future as there will be less young qualified and licensed carpenters.

The affect is already being felt as young willing workers cannot find apprenticeships and have to either find a new trade or work for sub contractors that don’t qualify for the apprenticeship programs and they only train in one certain skill like framing or finishing and not a complete general carpentry which is needed.

As the summer nears and the weather finally starts to warm up more construction projects will come available, this will be good for employment in the construction industry but the later start will allow construction companies to spread out their workloads so that they don’ t have to hire as much labour as they usually require.

As was the trend last year a lot of the people that are looking for work in the construction industry are young and have little to no experience. The applicants that have experience have experience from many different companies and usually from many different fields of work not just construction.

Today it is hard for a construction company to keep young people employed the entire year, this requires them to be always looking for another job when the job they are working at ends and/or the season changes. Residential construction slows down in the winter, usually most people end up looking for work all winter into the spring.

As the entire workforce in the construction industry gets another year older we come ever closer to 2020 when the bulk of the construction workforce will have retired with little to no qualified and well trained employee’s to take their places.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Notch in the concrete foundation for the floor joist


I’m putting an addition on the back of my house and I need to have a couple steps down to it, but I’m worried that the new floor joist are going to be too close to the ground, what can I do?


If you can’t lower the grade around the new addition then you’re going to have to put a “notch” in the foundation walls.

What is a notch you ask, basically you set the height of your foundation walls like you usually do and then you find out the height of your floor joists. Usually around 11 ¾’s (this varies depending on who is supplying you with your floor package). You then have the foundation sub contractors pour an extra 11 ¾ inch wall on top of the original wall (at the same time they pour the rest of the concrete wall), this extra wall is not the full width of the wall, so if the concrete wall is 8 inches thick then you would pour the extra wall so that it is half of that at about 4 inches. This 4 inch thick wall should be from the outside of the foundation wall, what this does is leave a 4 inch shelf or lip or “notch” on the inside of the foundation. This 4 inch’s will allow you to place the floor joist on top of it.

With the floor joist inside sitting on the foundation notch that allows you to raise the grade around the foundation without the ground getting to close to the wooden floor joist.

Doing this notch is important for many reasons;

Allows you to raise the grade of the ground around the addition so that you can have drainage away from the structure.

This allows you to raise the level of the waterproofing (as the grade is raised) around the addition giving it more protection.

This keeps the wood floor joist away from the ground and the splashing of water which overtime with damage them and create mold and mildew problems.

Leaving the 4 inches usually is enough to bear the weight for the floor joist which is what the engineering would call for.

This will cost a little more money for your concrete sub contractors to install as a notch takes more time to assemble and pour then a conventional concrete foundation wall, but it’s better to pay now and not have to repair rot and damage later.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.