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.