Monday, December 26, 2016

Start Planning Your Spring Renovations Now

Even though winter has just started, if you are thinking about renovating this spring then now is the time to start looking around for a contractor to do the actual renovation.

When it comes to renovations your contractor will help you design and plan the renovations that you want to complete. With the design, planning and then the budgeting this can take up a month or more before you come to an agreement. Usually renovations have to go through 3 or 4 budgets with changes to materials and work to be completed until a deal can be reached between client and contractor.

Once you have designed, planned, budgeted and signed the contract with your contractor then you and your contractor are going to want to start ordering things for it. Certain things like specialty plumbing fixtures can take a month or more to receive, or a specialty wood flooring can take months to have made and shipped. It's best to have to find a spot to store the materials needed for the renovation then having to leave the renovation unfinished for that length of time that you are waiting on materials to be manufactured and delivered.

The more decisions that you get out of the way before the renovations start the less stress you will have to deal with when the renovations actually start. There will be plenty of decisions that you as the homeowner will have to make once the renovation starts. Changes and upgrades are always part of a renovation once it starts as walls are opened up and workers find things that require fixing or replacing. With everything planned and ordered in advance you can focus on the decisions that arise as the renovation proceeds.

With the 2017 residential construction season looking like its going to be extremely busy for all contractors in the area you should start to talk to them now before you end up at the end of a long list of people looking for renovations. If you wait to long your spring renovation might end up being a fall renovation because every contractor is to busy already in the spring working on people that called them in the winter.

Make that call or send that email to the contractor that you are interested in now, delaying till closer to the spring might find you at the end of that line that outs you into the fall renovation schedule.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Village Builders Holiday Schedule

Village Builders will be open until December 23rd.

We will be closed from December 24th 2016 until January 8th, 2017.

The office will reopen on January 9th, 2017.

If you require assistance or you would like to book an appointment you can email and someone will get back to you.

If you have an emergency and you require our help email and someone will get back to you with 24 hrs.

Have a happy holidays.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Giving HomeOwners Choice When Renovating

I recently finished renovating a basement of a newer home, the basement was left unfinished after the homeowner had stopped the builder of the home before he could finish it even though  he had built the rest of the home at a high standard.

When I asked why they hadn't had the builder of their custom home finish the basement the homeowner informed me that the contractor had never given them a change order or even asked them if it was ok to spend more money then what was originally planned in the budget. After the bills kept piling up and the entire project ended up over budget they put a stop to their contractors spending and any work that was left to completed.

With that in mind and a contract in hand I did what I always did when renovating and gave the homeowner as many choices as I could. Some of them did not cost anything but were personal choice and some were upgrades.

Some of the upgrades were rejected like switching the pot lights to LED from halogen, but there were other ones that were accepted. Upgrades like adding extra pot lights to the bathroom for more light in the shower area and staining a pair of pine doors that we had made for the rec room instead painting them.

These weren't a lot of money over the original budget but I could tell that the homeowner appreciated that I would take the time to ask their opinion.

My belief is that a custom home or a custom renovation is just that "custom", its not custom to the contractor doing the work but it is custom to the home its being done and should be a reflection of the homeowners personality.

The homeowner doesn't get to have everything they want, there are somethings that I will insist on because of best practice and prior experience but overall the place should feel like they were the designers and not the contractors.

The more choices you allow a homeowner the more they feel personally invested in the project, not just financially invested. This helps the homeowner fall in love with the renovation before it's ever finished and also makes for a positive experience between both parties.

So whether you are the contractor doing the renovation or the homeowner you should expect to have choices given so that there are no surprises along the way.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Friday, November 25, 2016

The Kitchen Not Just A Simple Renovation Anymore

Kitchen renovations are not usually just about the kitchen cabinets and counter tops. A kitchen renovation usually ends up being a Kitchen Room renovation.

When most people decide that they require a new kitchen in their home it usually is when the kitchen is a minimum of 25 years old, usually its closer to 30 plus years old. The existing kitchen is dated and really starting to show its age, its probably had a couple of face lifts and has some add on's or deletions to it as technology has changed and so have the different applies that were available.

Because of the age of the kitchens usually there are other things in the room that will have to be changed, they are;

  • Flooring.
  • Ceilings,
  • Paint Colours,
  • Cabinet layout and Locations,
  • Plumbing Locations,
  • Lighting,
  • Venting Locations,
  • Electrical plugs and outlets, switches.
There are also more dramatic changes to kitchens, usually kitchens from before 1980 are in separate rooms that are completely cut off from the rest of the house, almost like someone thought that NO ONE SHOULD KNOW HOW THE FOOD BECOMES PREPARED! More often these days we are taking down walls between rooms to not only to give a better flow between rooms but also to give the illusion of space. Kitchens have become the centre of the home, it isn't just a place where the food is prepared, the place mom goes and wonderful things appear. Its now the heart of the home, kitchens have places to sit and eat meals, do your homework or enjoy a glass of wine with friends. 

Kitchens have become a thing of beauty and the centre piece to the home. One of they biggest selling features in any house is the kitchen. There is more money to be made in resale after a kitchen renovation then with any other room in the home.

So when you think about a kitchen renovation don't think about a little face lift, think about how you will be able to transform the centre of your home and make it warm, inviting and a place that everyone wants to be.

You must set the budget accordingly and you must dream big, the greater the kitchen idea the better it will turn out in the end!

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Eave Trough-Can Save Your Home From Rot And Water Damage

A lot of people think that eave trough are installed to keep the rain from falling on your head when you walk out your doors or keep water from pooling next to the building. While Eave Trough do all of this they also perform a much more important function. They protect your home from rot and water damage.

When rain falls off most roofs it ends up falling within a couple of feet of the actual walls of the home. This water has gained speed as it dropped off the roof and depending on what it lands on it can splash back onto the wall of the house. If the water hits a solid surface like a deck or concrete then the splashing can be worse then if it lands on grass or a bush in a garden.

When water splashes onto a wall the wall depending on what it is made from will become saturated, depending on where the water saturates the wall, will determine how fast the water affects the wall. If its in a corner that doesn't get a lot of airflow then the wall will likely never dry and the water damage will be worse then a place that the air gets a chance to help dry it. Usually near the ground no matter where it is there will be limited air movement.

If the wall is constructed out of wood and has a wood exterior then the water will penetrate and saturate the wood siding and the stud wall behind it. Overtime this will cause severe rot. The longer this is aloud to go on the worse the rot will get as it will spread from the original area.

With freezing and thawing the water that has saturated the wall can damage stone and masonry work.

A lot of modern designed homes do not have large overhangs, these homes require more water control as the smaller the overhangs the closer the water is dropped off the roof next to the foundation. In some cases the water falling off the roof can be pushed back by a prevailing wind that soaks the house wall instead of the water falling on the ground.

There are other ways to help negate water damage other then eave trough but nothing works as well as eave trough and nothing controls the distribution of water around a building like properly installed eave trough.

If your worried that your eave trough are not installed properly you can always call an eave trough contractor and for a small fee they will come out and make adjustments or repairs.

A little prevention can save a world of problems later.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Want An Addition? Here Are Things To Think About Before You Start Construction

We want to put an addition on our home, add a couple of bedrooms and a bathroom.

What should we be concerned about when we go for our drawings and building permits?

There are several things that you should be worried about when you want to put an addition on your existing home;

  1. Lot coverage. You are only allowed to cover a certain percentage of your property. The bigger the property the larger your footprint can be (the size of the addition and the home can be larger). 
  2. Distance from the lot lines. You have to be a certain distance from your property lines, depending on where you are building will tell you the distance you will be required to stay back.
  3. How the addition will tie into the existing home. One of the biggest problems that your designer will face is how to successfully tie the addition into the existing home so that it not only looks good but also so it functions properly as a home.
  4. Since you are adding a bathroom if you are on a septic system you will probably have to go through a septic review. This will mean comparing the existing septic system to what is required with your added square footage and extra bathroom. Depending on the age of the septic you could be looking at having to install a brand new system to get your building permit and that can be expensive.
  5. Depending on were you live you might be in a community that has design restrictions that will hamper addition design efforts.
  6. Worry more about how the addition is laid out for usability and flow for your family and less about the actual square footage. A lot of people get a number in their head for square footage instead of space uses and what will be used for what. You can end up spending a lot of money on square footage that you don't require or square footage that doesn't work well for you and your family. 
The designing and building of an addition is not something to be taken lightly. Done right and it can be hard to tell that the house ever had an addition added to it, done wrong and it can be something that can not only disrupt the flow and function of the home but actually hurt the resale value of it going forward.

Make sure that you are satisfied with the design and the layout of the addition before you approve the final drawings. If you need to take a little longer to get the drawings right then do so, its better to wait for the right drawings then to end up with something that you don't want or cannot use.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Make Your Renovation Decision Before You Call A Contractor

Before you call a contractor for anything, you and your partner should take the time and decide on what work you want and what the scope of the work should be.

All to often I am called to a potential clients home to talk about a renovation or a repair and as the conversation proceeds the job that I have been called to quote on becomes murky.

Prime example; I was once called to a potential clients home to look at a leaky roof, after measuring and talking to the clients about the issues with the roof, the proper materials to use and ways to repair or replace the roofing membrane an argument breaks out between the homeowners.

One wants not to just fix the leaky roof but to add new railings and other items, the spouse doesn't care about the railing or the leaky roof, they want to put an addition on top where the leaky roof would then be completely removed.

The argument ensued with me trying to stay out of the way until a conclusion could be negotiated.

Conclusion being that they can't reach an agreement but they want a price on both.

At that point I inform them that there is no way to give a price for an addition without any kind of plans or drawings. Also I inform them instead of pricing the repair of the roof I will wait a little while and let them settle the issue of what should be accomplished. The odds of hearing from them again on anything is usually slim.

This is not the first time that I have been called out to a potential client for a quote and what I am originally there to quote changes. This is a problem in several ways, one of the biggest ones is that when you haven't decided on a course of action you haven't decided on a budget either. That means that when I quote you for the potential work there is a more then likely scenario that you will think the quote is to expensive and not do the priced work. The reason that most people end up thinking that the quote is to expensive is because they really hadn't decided on what they wanted to do in the first place, so their not committed to having the work done and your price justified them not doing it at all.

Like most contractors we do not charge for estimates, but pricing and creating estimates does cost us money and time. That's why we try to take the time either on the phone or via email and try to gauge the overall level of commitment before we do a sight visit.

Renovation success starts before the contractor you have called arrives onsite. You should take the time and decide on what you want either remodeled or repaired. With that starting point you can then gauge your budget and the cost of the job once you have received a quote. This will ensure that the contractor isn't wasting their time and you aren't wasting your own.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Planning To Renovate A Century Farmhouse?

In the past decade a fair number of people have approached us with ideas of buying and renovating a century farmhouse that they have found in the country.

Most people want to blend the old house with a more modern feel, updating the house along the way.

What a lot of people don't realize is the extent that a century farmhouse usually requires in terms of renovations.

Most farmhouse renovations require either a complete gut of the interior or start as a small renovation and then suffer from "creep". Creep is a term we use in the renovation industry, it basically means that a renovation started in one part of the house but because of problems that are found during the renovation repairs start to spread out throughout the entire home. The more repairs that you do throughout the house the more the house ends up needing to be made over or finished.

For example: Renovating a bathroom in the house you discover that there is no insulation in the walls of the home. The home is old and is lath and plaster, after checking other parts of the house it is discovered that there is no real insulation in the walls. At this point a decision most be made to spend the money to insulate the home. There are several ways to do that but they all involve adding insulation either inside the walls of the home or outside the walls of the home. So a simple bathroom renovation has lead to an entire house insulation job. To insulate the walls also causes damage to the exterior walls that require fixing and also painting. Now the bathroom renovation is not just adding insulation throughout the home, it also requires wall repairs or drywall replacement and the entire house requires repainting. A bathroom renovation that was 10,000 has now grown to 20 to 30,000.

When you start to plan out an old farmhouse renovation you should assume that you will be renovating most or all of the house. Because of this you should set your budget accordingly. The worst thing that you can do is to have a small budget built on cutting corners to get the job finished quickly and cheaply, what this usually does is it ends up with you calling your contractor back every year to renovate another part as you realize more problems that you didn't want to fix all at once. This type of renovating does spread the cost over many years but it actually in the end costs more money. As you tie one renovation into another there is an overlap of what has already been renovated and also there is a cost for set up and clean up from your contractor.
So after 4 years and 4 separate renovations you have paid your contractor 4 times the start up and 4 times the clean up, this amount of money can actually add up when you add in the renovation overlap that occurs.

Setting your budget to fix everything that needs to be fixed and having the contractor do everything that is required in one year will actually save you money in the long run. Besides who really wants to live through 4 renovations when you really only need to live through one long one.

With old farmhouses that have good bones you will basically have to redo most of the interior, all the bathrooms and the kitchen, budget for it know and then you can live the rest of your live in a renovated home that has lots of character.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Communication Is The Key In Construction Between Homeowner And Contractor

No matter if it's a renovation or a new custom home build the most important thing about the project should be the communication between the Contractor and the homeowner (the client).

Your contractor can be the greatest builder or renovator on the planet but if they do not make you feel like you are part of the process then you will start to wonder what they are doing and guessing on what is actually happening to your home while you are not there. The more you guess the more your liable to be wrong, the more your wrong the more it will frustrate you. It's your home, you should be kept in the loop.

After decades of building custom homes and renovating for people what I have learned is that people want a sense of control (even if they don't have any control). That sense of control helps them justify the large amounts of money that they are spending with their contractor.

They shouldn't be in control of everything (that's kinda why they hired a contractor) but it's called a "custom home" or "custom renovation", that's suppose to mean that they get to have choice and choice is a form of control. The more choices you are able to give someone the more in control they feel, that means that they feel like they have more control of where their hard earned money is going and they are going to get exactly what they want.

This is something that you should be looking for in a contractor before you even hire one. When you interview contractors you should talk less about the amount of money that will be charged for the job and more about the amount of time the contractor will spend communicating with you the homeowner.

In the area that we work in there is a large proportion of weekend or seasonal homes, that means that the majority of the work that is being done to a home or the actual construction of a new home is done with the homeowner being absent from the property. This means that it is the contractor that has to make sure that the homeowner is kept up to date on everything that is happening. This can be accomplished with email, text or phone calls. Pictures with descriptions attached to them will help the homeowner feel like they aren't missing anything. This will also help when you need to ask them a question or get them to make a decision, they will be able to understand at what stage their renovation is currently at.

Ask your prospective contractors the normal way they communicate with clients, the frequency that they do and the level of detail they will include in the communications. This will help everyone enjoy the process of building or renovating.

Communication is the key, don't settle for less.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Can I Take Down Any Wall When I Renovate?

One of the main reasons that people want to renovate their homes is to create more space. Older homes no matter the size were usually built with many smaller rooms, each room having its own special designation. Today people don't want just designated rooms they want flexible open spaces. To accomplish this you usually require more space, space that usually requires you to remove walls to take two rooms and make them into one.

But is every wall in a house the same? Are they all equal? Well the answer is no.

Depending on the design of the house, the age of the house and the materials that the house is built out of will have a bearing on if you can remove the offending wall and what it will require to remove the wall.

How do you know? You really need a professional to tell you if the wall can be taken down. If you have hired a professional to do your renovation then good for you, they will be able to determine if the wall is structurally important to your home or if its just a basic room divider.

If you are doing the renovation yourself then you need to be careful. You can spend the money and hire a professional like a contractor or an engineer to come in and tell you if its safe to take the wall down or you can start the easy way.

The easy way is that you cut several holes in the ceiling next to were the offending wall is built. Once you have access to the space between the joists then you can tell how the wall is built and if there is posts, blocking or beams that are holding something above you. Also you have to determine if the wall is helping hold up the floor joist.

Even if the wall is holding something up above or supporting the floor joist you can still remove it, but you will need to replace that wall with something. Something like a beam. This is the point were if you are trying to do the renovation yourself you should stop and hire a professional to help you because if you get this wrong you can severally damage the house and or endanger people living in it.

So remember to take your time when contemplating a wall removal, do it slowly and deliberately and if you have any questions don't be afraid to ask someone that knows what they are doing.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

I Need Someone To Help Me Get Organized For My Renovation

Depending on the size and scope of the renovation project that you want to take on you are probably going to have to go through permits, drawings, engineers and designs. All of these things are needed for your large renovation project to commence.

What most people don't realize is that until you actually hire a contractor to do the renovation work you will be doing all of this pre-renovation legwork by yourself. To hire a contractor you will want to get a price for your project, to get a proper price for your project requires that you have drawings, designs and engineering. The one person that can help you do all of the things you need to do (the renovation contractor) doesn't really want to help you until they have been given the job and they know they will get paid for all their time and effort.

There is a solution, what you need is a consultant. Not just any consultant but a company that consults on renovations because it does renovation contracting as well. Village Builders does this, we will consult on renovation projects to help homeowners get their permits, drawings, engineering and designs. This consulting doesn't come with any strings to the rest of the project, we charge you for the consulting work, help you get everything you need and then if you want to hire us do the renovation we will complete it for you. If you want us to bid on the job with other builders then we will do that too. In-fact if you have a contractor that you want to do the job and want us just do the consulting as the renovation progresses we will be happy to do that as well.

Consulting works by us charging you an hourly fee for our time and then the fee of any professional that we hire on behalf of you the homeowner.  For example; if we hire an engineer to do drawings for parts of your home then you would pay their bill and anytime that we as the consultants worked with them.

As consultants we can give you preliminary budgets for the project, these budgets would be based solely on your ideas before you have your drawings so that you understand the scope of monies that you are getting into. We will also give you budgeting on the renovation once the drawings are completed so that you can have something to use as a template to compare the other bidders for the renovation work. This way you are able to weed out the bidders that are too low and the ones that are excessively too high.

If you are thinking about taking on a large renovation project and you don't know were to start, then call or email us at Village Builders, we can help.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

The True Cost Of Building A Custom Home

Here's the one question I get asked all the time when someone calls me about building a custom home "what do you charge per sqft to build a custom home".

Our answer use to be "how much do you pay for a car?" Basically because there is so much difference in the cost from one custom home to another because they are "custom" to the person its built for that there was no entirely accurate way to answer the question. We decided that the answer (even being correct) really didn't help the person asking the question to know what a custom home cost.

So what we started doing was telling people the cost of the "average" custom home per square foot (sqft). This helped a lot because people then realized that they could take that number and multiple it to the size of the house (in square feet) that they wanted. The math was kinda simple, for example if you wanted to build a 2000 sqft custom home and I told you that the average cost of a custom home was about $200 a sqft then you could come up with the figure of $400,000 and know the cost of the house you wanted to build. 

The problem arises when the person asking that question isn't looking for a rough number on the cost of having a custom home built but an exact cost for the home that they want to build down to the dollar. The problem with this is that most of these people have no plans or drawings of their future home for me to price from, which means that the house could be simple or it could be a palace with gold toilets. No matter if the simple home and the palace were the same size one is obviously gonna cost more then the other.

So when you tell someone that the average cost of a custom home is $200's a sqft that's because thats where they usually start, the fancier the custom home the more it's gonna cost. For example; I have built really large custom homes that are 8000 sqft, the actual cost of the home overall was about $2,000,000. That works out to about $250 a sqft. But I have also built homes that are 4800 sqft and they also cost $2,000,000's. The difference in cost per sqft is a lot. The reason was that the larger home had large rooms that didn't have a lot of detail in them, they were big open rooms with normal trim and fairly normal finishing's throughout the home. The smaller home had the best of everything, it had cathedral ceilings, timber framing, hardwood stained trim and the most expensive floors money can buy. It also had real stone on the entire outside of the home. The smaller home was more expensive per sqft at about 416.00 because of the finishing's and the design of the home. This type of price discrepancy is what gives contractors a bad name, people will say that the builder told me one price at the start, "I got the plans drawn up and the price sky rocketed". 

So when you start looking into having a custom home built calling around to every builder that you can find on the internet in your area and asking them how much they can build a custom home for isn't really going to tell you how much they will build your house for, what you need is a proper set of plans for your future home. When you have that then you can visit builders and ask them for a price on your dream home, then the contractors have little to know excuse not to give you a fair and accurate quote . That's the only way that you will ever get the correct answer to what your home will cost per sqft.

When contractors are quoting or even budgeting new custom homes the more information that you can give them only helps them generate a more accurate quote. Take your time, make as many decisions as you can and concentrate on the details as the plans are being prepared, remember the more information the better.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Time To Change The Exterior Of Your Aging Home?

Do you have one of those bungalows built in the seventies, with the old white siding and maybe a little bit of bed brick. The windows are original, the soffits are the original wood and everything requires constant repainting and even after it looks tired and aged.

What you need is an exterior face lift for you home. This type of face lift isn't simple, it takes a while for a contractor to complete and also takes a lot of planning, but when it's completed you will look at your home and think that it's a brand new home. Not only will it look good but with adding new windows and some foam sheets of insulation it will perform better in the winter and in the summer. The great thing about doing a big exterior face lift on your house is that it instantly adds value to your home for resale.

There are many different types of windows and doors that you can choose from that are made to be installed as a retrofit. Also your choices for an exterior products can range from wood siding, to vinyl, to manufactured stone and even to cement siding. As long as they are installed properly they should last longer then you will in that home of yours.

The adding of insulation has an up front charge but it easily pays you back in the long run with the savings that you receive on your heating and air conditioning bills.

The changing of soffits to either aluminum or vinyl from the old style of wood means that you will never have to paint them again! New soffits made from aluminum and vinyl also allow the attic of your home to breath better as they have more penetrations for air to move through. This helps the overall performance of your home.

Overall if you choose the appropriate materials you should end up with an exterior for the home that requires little to no maintenance. That's not only good for you but it's also really good for the resale value of your home.

If you are thinking about changing the exterior of your home give us a call 705 466-3202, or visit our website

We would be glad to help you with all of your renovation needs.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Upgrading Your Deck To Make It Special

The cost of labour and materials over the years has risen sharply to the point were it is not a cheap thing to have a deck built anymore, especially if the deck is built properly and by a reputable company that will stand by their warranty. That is why when you do decide to have that deck built you should make sure that you have all those little extra's built into the deck, doing it later will cost more and can cause damage to your new deck.

Some of those extra little things that I'm talking about are as follows;

  • Electrical plugs. GFI's for not only normal electrical needs but also for the rotisserie on your BBQ.
  • You might have thought about the gas line for the BBQ but what about another line for a gas space heater or a gas fire pit. Also if you think that one day you will move your BBQ or in different seasons you move it to get out of the wind then you should have another BBQ adapter location installed. 
  • Lights. Whether the lights are hardwired into the deck or are solar powered it's easier to make them look like they belong if there installed during construction and not retrofitted after.
  • Storage. If your deck is built even a little off the ground then you could have the option of having storage built into the underside of the deck. There are many different types of under-deck storage and many different sizes. Regardless of the one you choose it's a great place to store cushions for the deck chairs when they are not needed.
  • Seating. Sometimes deck furniture can take up to much room and can be impractical in some locations. Having seating built into the deck can be installed out of the way and can allow for more people to comfortably sit when in a social gathering. Built in seating doesn't have to be put away in the winter and weathers with the existing deck.
  • Planter boxes. Building planter boxes can take the place of railings or privacy fences and give your deck some nice colour and depending on the plants height some shade.
  • Shade. There are many different types of shade systems, from sails to pergolas, depending on where you build your deck you could end up with a place that is too hot to enjoy. The best thing to do is to build in some shade in your deck. It's not only good for the people sitting on the deck its also good for the deck to keep it outta the direct sunlight.
  • Speakers. Wiring the deck for sound and running it back to a central location is a nice way to set the mood at any social function. Building it into the deck makes the fit and finish look better and keeps the speakers out of the way of people and animals.
  • Hand rails. Depending on how many stairs you have on your deck you might not require a handrail, but they are a good thing to install anyways to help with an aging population. Hand rails also help in the winter when going down the stairs can be a little dicey. It's always nice to have a hand rail for aging members of the family when they come to visit.
  • Building decks around hot tubs can help people get in and out of them easier and also gives a convenient place to tie down the cover against high winds.
  • Water features. Water foundations, water falls, spouts, misters, there are many different water features that you can build around the deck and into the deck that blend into the landscaping.  
As you can see there are a lot of options that you can pick from when planning out a deck so take your time and talk to your deck building contractor. Doing it while the deck is being constructed will not only save you some money but also add to the enjoyment of your new deck.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Sick Of Hearing Those Noisy Neighbours?

Are you getting tired of hearing your neighbours every time they play their music, every time they argue or slam their door? Maybe it's time you did something about it, call a renovation contractor they can help you fix that.

There are many ways to dampen, deaden or stop exterior noise all together and it doesn't involve turning the TV up louder so that you can't hear them.

  1. Change your windows. New windows are better at dampening noise and vibrations that come from the outside. There is also the option of going to a triple pane window, triple pane windows are so efficient at stopping noise that you would have trouble hearing someone on the other side of the window even if they were yelling towards you. You would have more chance of hearing them through the wall then the window. Triple pane windows are also really good at helping heating and cooling.
  2. Upgrade your insulation. Adding foam to your homes exterior walls will help dampen the noise coming from outside. You can have it sprayed in the wall caviities or you can have it installed on the exterior or interior of the outside walls as a sheet. Adding foam is also really good for helping with heating and cooling.
  3. Cellular blinds and curtains. These are a fairly cheap and easy way to dampen noise that is penetrating through your windows. Good quality blinds and curtains can have a tremendous affect on the amount of sound that makes its way into the home.
Some exterior finishes on houses have the same desired effect to dampen sound. Vinyl siding is notoriously bad at stopping noise; products like brick and stone have the density to stop sound from transmitting through the walls. The only problem with them is the cost of installing the product is rather high.

For more tips to combat unwanted sound send me an email at

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Geothermal VS Propane Heating In The Country

For the past 10 years the debate between installing a geothermal furnace compared to a propane furnace has boiled down to a trio of issues;

  • The size of the house that you are building,
  • The available space to install the geothermal ground loops,
  • Your overall house budget.
The larger the house the bigger return on the geothermal and the faster it pays you back for the increased cost. The ground loops are the most efficient energy and cost installation method and they do require a lot of room to install. The budget of the house is greatly effected by the heating system as geothermal is a lot more expensive then a propane based heating system.

Lately there has been a change in the conversation around geothermal vs propane, it's the cost of electricity. Ontario has the highest electricity rates in North America and they are only going to go up. This is driving the cost of heating with geothermal up a lot more then it ever has, compared to the price of propane which goes up and down in price but overall is still not rising as a whole more then the electricity rates. 

Even though geothermal furnaces are far more efficient then propane furnaces, the rising cost of electricity is making the savings almost non existent as propane hasn't risen as steeply.

The payback for choosing geothermal is becoming so long that with the rising cost of electricity there is going to come a time when geothermal stops saving you money all together.

The one major advantage that geothermal has over propane is that geothermal has ultra efficient air conditioning where propane cannot produce air conditioning at all and has to use a conventional air conditioner which uses electricity at a much more inefficient way which costs you more on your electricity bill then geothermal.

Because of the constantly changing landscape of the electricity market with its extra fee's and rising rates serious thought most be taken when choosing your heating system. Only you the homeowner can make the final decision on what heating system you want, all your contractor can do is give you the information. The final decision is up to you the homeowner which road to go down.
When you are planing out your new build with your contractor a large amount of time should be spent on what your heating system should end up being.

Take your time and way the options, because this will affect you in the future.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Looking To Move To Creemore? Maybe You Should Build A Home

If you are looking to relocate to Creemore or you are looking for a weekend retreat to buy in the picturesque small town you will probably be surprise by what you find. The prices of homes in Creemore have jumped in the last year by a large margin and the amount of homes that are actually for sale has dwindled to only a few. The lack of inventory is one reason that the price of homes has skyrocketed, the other would be the total lack of new development.

Currently people are buying homes that they don't really want because they desperately require a home, then they are either renovating the home or adding additions to it to make it more to what they wanted.

There is another option, you could have a custom home built instead, then you will have exactly what you want, the size, the style and a brand new modern well insulated home.

There are pieces of property still for sale in and around Creemore from a normal sized in town lot with all town services to larger country properties just outside of town were you could build yourself a new custom home. There are also several older small homes that are in town that require removal that would make great sites for a new home.

With the cost of resale homes rising so quickly and the lack of inventory of them it makes more and more sense to build a custom home for yourself. The cost between buying a resale home and then renovating it compared to buying a lot and building a new custom home has become very close to the same overall price. Custom homes are still a little more expensive but they are also brand new with a warranty, the resale market for custom homes has also climbed in the last year and custom homes are now selling for a much higher price then they ever did before. This makes the investment in building a new custom home a great long and short term investment.

If you want to build a custom home in the Creemore area and don't know where to start email me and we should be able to help you with it. We are custom home builders after all.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

A Properly Waterproofed Flat Roof Is Something That Is Worth Every Penny

We are currently participating in the repair of a building that has an older flat roof, the roof was repaired several times improperly and the result is tragic.

Because the repairs to the flat roof was completed by someone that didn't know what they were doing the repair was nothing more then a band-aid. The band-aid worked for a short little while and then failed and started leaking again.

The results from improper repairs were the entire roof  became water damaged, water damage to the framing material, the roof deck, the insulation, the drywall and the contents inside the building.The damage was so extensive that our part of the repair was to completely remove the flat roof sub framing, the existing membrane, drywall and roof decking.

Basically we were re-framing the entire roof and then a new flat roof membrane was being installed.

The cost of this "repair" ends up costing several times more then what the original cost would have been to just replace the old flat roof membrane when it originally required it.

How does this happen? The original repair might have been considered too expensive and the building owner probably retained someone that would do a cheaper repair instead of a replacement of the flat roof membrane. Now the company that was to expensive has been hired to install a proper flat roof membrane but only after the damage from the repair has been done.

The moral of the story? When you are dealing with a roof the cheaper option is usually exactly what you don't want. And when you are dealing with a flat roof it is vital that you hire a professional that knows what they are doing and can supply you with a proper warranty.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Renovating that house you just bought

Here's a typical scenario, people buy a house and from the time it takes for the offer to be accepted to the day that it closes and you get to move in you are dreaming about what changes you are going to make to the home.

Everyone wants to change something in the home that they just bought, whether its wall colours or larger more extensive changes like kitchens and bathrooms. My advice to people is that you should start by repairing anything that requires immediate repair and work from there.

For example; if there is a leak in the roof or the foundation then have that fixed, or if the furnace doesn't work properly then have it replaced or repaired. Painting is another thing that you can do as soon as you move in as it doesn't create a lot of dust and the cost is relatively low compared to other renovations. Besides the best time to paint is before you have hung your pictures.

If you can have the major problems fixed before you move in then that is ideal, but most people don't have the luxury of getting their home early and not having to move their furniture in until the demolition and repairs are completed.

Once you have the immediate problems fixed or repaired then you can start to concentrate on other things like storage, kitchens, bathrooms, floors, additions, fences and decks. These are all things that should be thought about and planned out before you go ahead with them. 

What you will find is that if you live in the home for any length of time you will find that the answers, designs and styles of what you want to renovate will come to you organically. The best way to find out how a home will function best is to live in it.

Once you have a plan in your head then you can talk to a contractor about the cost of the renovations and the timing for them.

Bathroom and kitchen renovations can be disruptive but only in small parts of the house, these types of renovations tho inconvenient can be easily worked around while you are living there.

The best advice I can give is that you should take your time to plan properly before starting any major renovation, the old saying "fail to plan, you might as well plan to fail" is correct in this case.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.   

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Insulating A Double Brick Farm House

Recently we completed a bathroom renovation on an old farm house, when the old bathroom had been completely stripped we discovered that the farmhouse was built out of double brick.

What is double brick? Double brick is a way homes were constructed a century ago before the invention of conventional insulation. Instead of building a stud wall and then bricking a single row of brick on the outside the house, the home was built by bricking the outside walls first and to make the brick strong enough they would built the brick in multiple layers giving it strength and making the brick wall thicker.

The lath and plaster was then installed on the inside of the brick, there was usually barn board or strips of wood that were used to build the brick outside walls left on the wall to give something to attach the lath and plaster too. The multiple layers of brick acted as a natural wind break for the cold winter winds, it also acted like an oven, when the home was heated from the inside it would reflect the heat back in making the heating the home a lot easier then other homes built at the same time.

The big problem once you have discovered that the home is double brick is how or if you will try to insulate the walls. Depending on the finishes, the window build outs and the amount of room you have it can be tricky to accomplish this without causing a lot of headaches and work for yourself.

With the bathroom renovation what we choose to do is to add SM sheets of foam on attached directly to the inside of the walls, affixing them to the existing barn board. The depth of the insulation would be determined by how much it would affect the overall inside dimensions. We settled on 1 inch of foam. Even through 1" of foam is not a tremendous amount of insulation it works quiet well when combined with the double brick. It is also a fairly inexpensive way to insulate a wall without losing a lot of space in a room like an old bathroom that is already short on space.

When working on old homes you have to be creative, not everything is simple or easy.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Don't Wait To Call Your Contractor This Summer

Now that the warmer weather has finally arrived people are starting to think about all the projects that they wanted to complete at their homes and cottages.

Those renovation, additions and new builds will require you to hire a contractor.

What you need to realize is that your not the only one looking for a contractor now that the weather has warmed up, everyone is looking for the same thing. The longer you wait to start looking the longer you are going to have to wait for your chosen contractor to be available.

One of the worst things you can do is hire a contractor just because their schedule is open for you to hire them. Your choice for contractor should be about someone you trust, someone you can work with and someone that you believe can do the work to your standard.

Start your search early, get a proper quote and find someone you can work with, you can always schedule your contractor for later in the summer when you are ready for the work to be done. If you wait too long to start the process of finding that contractor then you could end up in the position of having to wait for the per-ford contractor to become available. This can end up pushing your project into the fall.

Since June is almost here then you should be looking for that contractor now or you could end up settling for someone that you don't really want or waiting until the fall for that contractor that you really want to fit you in.

Start making those calls and emails now before you are forced to wait.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Don't Forget The Rod When Buying A Ceiling Fan

One of the simplest things to forget when you want to either replace a ceiling fan or install a new ceiling fan is to forget the rod that keeps the fan off the ceiling.

Most fans will come with a small rod that is no more then 4 inches long, this works well in flat ceilings that are only 8 feet high. It doesn't help you out when there is any kind of slope to the ceiling.
Fans are usually installed in sloping or high ceilings to help move the air around so that the hot moist air doesn't just collect at the top of the room. This lowers your heating and cooling bills and can help make a room feel more comfortable.

Depending on were you are placing your ceiling fan will determine the length of rod that you will require for it to operate properly. For example if you are placing your ceiling fan at the peak of the roof then the sloping ceiling will restrict how high the fan can be placed as the blades will come in contact with the ceiling. The steeper the ceiling the less room your fan will have and the longer the rod you will require for it to have proper clearance to operate.

Some people will require longer rods not just because of the ceiling angle but also because they want their fans to hang lower so that they can be seen easier as a decorating feature. Other people want to feel the air being moved by the fan so they want the fan to be hung lower for that desired affect.

Whatever the length of rod that you require that rod is more then likely not going to be included with the fan that you purchase. You will have to buy it separately and depending on were you are buying your fan they may not even mention to you that you will need a rod.

The worst case scenario is that you have electricians come into your home, get all set up to change the fan and then inform you that the new fan doesn't fit because the rod isn't long enough. At that point you have several choices;

  1. You can leave and run around town and hopefully find a rod that fits, while the electricians wait for you as they bill you for their time.
  2. You can get the electricians to go out and buy you the appropriate rod that you require, you are not only paying them for their time but also the mark up on the rod that they buy.
  3. You can ask them to come back another day when you are able to find the appropriate rod. This also adds more cost as there is usually a fee for coming back a second time to set up.
When you purchase that fan make sure that before you leave the store you inquire about the appropriate length of rod that you require. If you are not total sure of the length of rod that you need then buy several different lengths, you can always return the ones you don't use.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Don't Let That Home Inspectors Report Scare You

A sad trend in today's real estate environment is the rise of the home inspector. Home inspectors have been built up into the real estate buying and selling process so much that home insurance companies are now asking for a copy of their reports when you apply for home insurance.

Now I'm not saying that there isn't a role for the home inspector in real estate, they fit in for what they are, a completely unregulated group of people that I would have a hard time calling "professionals".

As a custom home builder that also renovated dozens of homes a year I am constantly shaking my head at home inspector reports that my clients hand me. The report is usually 50% incorrect in it's findings and the rest of the report is things that are of such little cost to repair that we find it not worth the paper it was written on.

As a custom home builder I know infinitely more then a home inspector on how a home is put together,what can and does go wrong in a home overtime and the cost to fix it. But even with all the experience I still find myself learning new things every day about new homes and how they are affected by time. Because of this we rely on our sub-contractors to know more then us and to educate us on all the sophisticated systems in a home. For example if I think that there is a problem with the heating system in a home I don't diagnose the problem myself I will bring in a mechanical contractor to do that and to give me a price for the repair.

Home inspectors on the other hand will look at a problem with the heating system and tell the home owner what they believe the problem is and how it needs to be repaired. 50% of the time the diagnoses of what the problem is is completely wrong. 90% of the time what the home inspector then recommends as a repair is completely wrong.

What this does is create an expectation with the homeowner that they know what is wrong and they know how to fix it. This creates a problem for the contractor that comes in to do the actual repair, the seller of the home wants the contractor to fix it like the home inspector said and the buyer of the home is expecting the same. The problem arises when the contractor informs the seller that the problem isn't what the home inspector has stated and the repair isn't either right or even needed.

This whole scenario eats up a lot of time and money on both sides just because an unqualified  home inspector wrote something down on paper that they weren't trained to identify in the first place.

Th moral of the story is if you are going to hire a home inspector to write a report about the home that you wish to purchase take the report with a grain of salt. Do not be surprised if their report turns out to be incorrect and unreliable.

I you are really worried about something in a house ask your renovation contractor to come take a look, for a small fee or if they have already been retained to renovate the home when you buy it (then there won't be a fee) they will come out and take a look and diagnose the problem and the cost to properly correct it.

Remember that you want someone that knows how to fix the home not someone who is just trying to justify their fee.

Call your contractor.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Get Your Renovation Price Before You Buy That Home

With the current real estate market in the area being so hot and with so may people looking for homes to buy and so few homes actually on the market for sale people are buying homes that they really do not want.

The need to purchase something in the area is becoming almost a fever pitch, this is making it more difficult to actually purchase a home. With the limited homes that are on the market people and a glutton of buyers looking, homes are being bought that require a large amount of renovations, repairs, updating or in some cases require more square footage leading to the construction of additions.

In this ultra competitive real estate market where property can sell overnight buyers are being asked to make quick decisions if they want to make an offer or not. This can lead people into a problem of buying a home that requires work but not knowing how much the renovations will cost.

You can hire a home inspector to tell you what they think is wrong with the home but that won't tell you how much it will cost to fix and to update. What you need is a renovation contractor that can give you a rough ballpark number on the renovations you require.

The best thing you can do is to retain a renovation contractor that you trust to come in and walk through the home with you. Tell them what you want to update and fix and they will give you a rough budget on what it will cost. This way you will be able to add that to your budget when you are making your offer on the home.

Not all renovation contractors will do this, but the good ones usually will, they will usually do it for a small fee just to cover their time.

The renovation budget that they give you will not be binding in anyone and if you actually purchase the home then they will be able to take their time and give you a proper estimate that reflects your level of finish and the plans that you come up with for the home.

If you are looking for help to figure out the cost of the renovations before you make an offer on that home make sure you have your renovation contractor take a look. A little bit of time and money before the purchase could save you a lot of money and heartache in the future.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Why Custom Kitchens Are Better Then Ikea Kitchens

In the world of building and renovating homes, we try to do as much custom work as we can, not just because we want to but because it turns out better in the end for the client.

One of the most frustrating things with people today is that they have been led to believe that the best way to save money is to buy an Ikea kitchen and have it installed to save money over having a custom kitchen built and installed.

Let's get the money thing out of the way to begin with, everyone thinks that custom kitchens are so expensive and that's why they go and buy Ikea kitchens. The cost to actually buy the kitchen is cheaper up front from Ikea compared to the cost of a custom kitchen but that's were the savings stop. 

When you shop for Ikea kitchens the prices they give you are the basic prices and there is nothing fancy or unique about it. You have to purchase all the hardware for the doors separately either from Ikea or from another source. Custom kitchens come with all the hardware in the price and are also installed by the kitchen supplier. 

The biggest cost of an Ikea kitchen that no buddy tends to think about is the cost of the assembly. Most people think that Ikea kitchens must be fairly easy to put together and install. Take it from me, we have assembled and installed Ikea kitchens for clients as part of a renovation and the cost of this ends up being very high. The fact that they are hard to put together and there are always pieces missing means that you loss precious time running back to Ikea to buy or return cabinets. Because Ikea kitchens are not designed and make for your house then they take longer to install. It becomes difficult when floors are out of level, walls aren't plumb or you have to alter a cabinet to fit a space it wasn't designed for.

Every time I install an Ikea kitchen when I total up what the homeowner spent and my cost for my employee's to assemble and install it the cost ends up working out to within 10% of the custom kitchen.

What are you giving up just to save 10 or less percent on your kitchen? A lot, custom kitchens make use of every single inch in a kitchen. Because a custom kitchen is made just for your kitchen there are little things that can be fit in to what an Ikea kitchen would consider wasted space. Things like spice racks, cloth drawers and specialty corner cabinet hardware that don't require a lazy suzanne to be installed giving you amble storage.

One of the biggest things that you are giving away for less then 10% savings is the quality of the overall kitchen. Custom kitchens last as long as you are going to own the home, Ikea kitchens are usually in need of repair and replacement in less then 10 years. Why spend so much money when you are going to have to start repairing it in less then a decade.

Your kitchen is one of the most used parts of your home, you should be making a proper investment in it. Forget the Ikea kitchen, spend that extra 10% and get a custom kitchen.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Renovate Before You Move In

The best time to renovate that house you just bought is before you move in.

When you buy a house that you want to renovate you should think of doing some or all of the renovations before you ever physically move into the house.

If you are buying a second home like a chalet or a cottage then you can easily delay the date that you are able to move in until your renovations are finished.

If you are buying a house that is your primary residence then the best thing you can do is get bridge financing so that you can do the majority of the renovations before you have to move in.

There are many reasons to do this:

  • Dirt. Renovating is a dirty business and it is always easier to clean up a house after a renovation if there is no furniture in the way. Rugs, furniture, bed spreads can all end up covered in dust if the dust and dirt drift throughout the house.
  • Your own stuff. It's hard for a contractor to work around other peoples stuff, they end up having to do things twice and they are constantly moving men, equipment and materials to accommodate the homeowners who need access to different parts of the house.
  • Convenience. If you are planning to renovate a kitchen or a main bathroom or the only bathroom in the house that has a shower then you are going to want to have it completed before you move in. Not having a kitchen can be a very stressful thing, especially if you have a large family. 
  • Cost. Contractors take into consideration the amount of time they will lose when they have to work around other peoples stuff. They also add more time and money to the job so that they can properly protect the homeowners stuff from dust. Dust screens, the taping of rooms off, the tarping of beds and furniture all takes time and time is money. If a contractor knows that they are going to work in a home that is empty then they are able to plan on less time and less money to complete the renovation.
  • Design. It is always easier for your contractor to help you with design ideas and layouts when the rooms of the house are empty. A more accurate readying of a rooms size can be determined when there is no furniture in the house.
  • Problems. It is always easier to identify problems in the home when it is completely empty. There are no rugs to hide anything and pictures covering the walls. Everything can be assessed with a simple look around.
  • Layout. Once the house is renovated you might think about the layout of your home completely differently. Renovations to kitchens tend to change the whole flow of how the home functions.
The bottom line is moving is stressful and if you can move without having to deal with renovations that are also stressful then you will actually enjoy the whole experience (and you might save some money).

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Power Outage-5 Things To Put In Your New Home To Protect Against A Power Outage

When planning your new custom home you should think about what essentials you will want in it, one of the essentials that often gets over looked is how your home will perform (or not perform) when you have a power outage.

With today's weather getting increasingly more unstable, storms becoming larger and more severe losing power for longer amounts of time is becoming a bigger and bigger problem. A lot of things can go wrong in a house that is without power for extended amounts of time and a lot of hardship can be inflicted on people inside these homes.

Here are 5 things that you should have in your new custom home to help you in a power outage:

  1. Generator: This might seem like an obvious thing but there are a lot of different types of generators. They all cost different amounts and they all work in varying degrees. Generators can run on gasoline, propane or natural gas. They can be hardwired in so that the loss of power triggers them to activate or they can be controlled by a switch. Other generators that are portable have to be pulled over to the house and plugged in and started. True portable generators will sit outside your home and you will have to run extension cords into your home to power up certain things in the home. Since you are building a new house it's not much more to have the electricians install a generator panel that controls certain parts of the house that are critical to it's operation and your comfort. Being able to at least plug in a generator to run your sump pump, kitchen plugs and fans will save you a lot of time, trouble and will help give your family a level of comfort that can be difficult to achieve when you are without power. The prices of generators varies greatly depending on their quality, what fuel they require and how they operate.
  2. Gravity Drain: Even if you are lucky to have a generator you can still run out of fuel for it or have a mechanical failure as generators are not used all the time. One of the most important things in your house is your sump pump, if you don't have power to run your sump pump then you could be risking a flood in your basement. If this happens then you could have way more problems once the power is restored. One way to help avoid flooding in your basement is to have a gravity drain installed in your new house. A gravity drain connects to the weeping system that runs around the base of the footings of your home. The weeping system connects to the sump pump inside your home bringing excess water to it to be pumped away from the house before it can invade the basement and cause damage. When you attach a gravity drain to the weeping system it gives the water another place to flow then your sump pail. The hydro-static pressure of the water around your basement will force water to flow down the gravity drain and away from you new home. This should help keep the water from overflowing the sump pail and your basement keeping the water pressure down around the home. Your gravity drain needs to slope away from your home to an area where the water will not seep back towards the area of the home.
  3. Fireplace: No matter if the fireplace is wood burning or a gas burning fireplace having at least one fireplace in your new custom home will keep precious heat in your home. Heat is by far one of the most important things you need to keep in your home. If you don't have heat then you could have major damage to your home; water pipes freezing, taps freezing, pipes breaking and causing minor floods. If you don't have heat in your home then your family will not be able to stay in the home, it could end up being a life threatening situation. If you can get a fireplace with an optional fan that will move heat around your home then you can plug the fan into your generator. With this setup you should be able to heat your entire home throughout the power outage.
  4. Insulation: Every home has insulation and newer homes have more insulation. If you make the insulation a priority in your new custom home and you maximize the amount that is installed then when you do lose power your home will stay warm (or cold) for longer periods of time. A super insulated home with little to no air leaks can stay warm without power for days. A home that is extensively insulated does not allow a lot of air exchange and thus does not allow the cold air into the home. This also helps in the summer with holding the air conditioning when the power is out allowing your home to stay cooler longer.
  5. Solar panels: This is not a cheap option, but with today's technological advances solar panels are a viable option for people. Whether you are installing a large complex solar system that will power most of your home during a power outage or a single solar panel that is installed to keep your sump pump running when the power fails it is now possible to pre-wire a home for solar panels. With the grants that are available for people to sell solar energy to the grid being so lucrative it pays to sell your power while still buying power from the grid at a lower amount. You can have systems designed that will switch over when the power fails to power most or all of your new home. This option is already becoming popular on farmers that require constant power to keep livestock feed and watered during power outages.
Whether you can afford these options or not it's worth a conversation with your home builder, a little time and money spent now can save you a world or worry and frustration when the lights go out. You don't have to pick all of the them but having at least a couple will help you when the lights go out again.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders inc. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

What You Need To Know About Buying Land For A New Custom Home

Most people think that building a new home starts with getting the drawings produced for that new home.

Actually, the whole process starts with finding the right piece of property to build your new home on.

This might sound like the easy part, but if you don't know what you are looking for you could end up costing yourself a lot of time and stress in the future.

There are several things that you should be looking at when you are trying to find a piece of property to build a new custom home on:


What people don't realize is that zoning can affect everything that you want to do on the property. If the zoning is not what you require for the house that you want to build, or the accessory buildings you would like to construct or if you want to run some sort of business from your home then you will have to go through a zoning change. This change of zoning is done through the municipality and can sometimes take a long time, especially if there is any opposition to what you have proposed. If you are worried about what the property has been zoned you could simply call the municipality that the property is located in and they will explain to you the zoning restrictions that exist on the property.

Conservation Authorities

Conservation authorities have control over area's that are usually environmentally significant or sensitive. They also control flood plain area's. Conservation authorities usually will not outright restrict you from building but they will have a say in were you build the house, the specifications of the septic system and if you are able to build ponds or other features. Certain businesses can be also restricted by them to protect ground source water for the entire area.

Environmental Commissions

These commissions are put in place to protect area's that are at risk of over development, have species at risk or places that are environmentally sensitive. These commissions are under no obligation to approve your building plans in a timely manner and will have a say in the shape, size, positioning and height of your new home. These commissions can not only cost you time (waiting for approvals) but they can cost you money. They usually do not have fee's for their services but they can demand that you plant trees, build berms or put up protective fencing depending on the ecosystem in the immediate area.

They can also be against businesses that are run from your home that do not fall into their mandate.


These are the distances that you are allowed to build from property lines, ponds, septic systems, roads, ditches or other hazardous area's. These setbacks can affect were you set the house on the property, the shape of the house and the size of the house. This also affects accessory buildings that you might want to build at a later date.


This will affect what kind of house you build. If the property is hilly then you might want to consider a walkout basement. If there is a distant view then you might want to set your home on the highest point for the best view. If you have low area's that are prone to getting wet then you might want to avoid building the home there. If the property is very steep then you might find it difficult to play with your kids or add additional out buildings.

Availability Of Services 

If you have access to natural gas, or municipal water or municipal sewers this will affect the budget for your new home. If you require geothermal for heating because there is no natural gas or if you require a well or a septic system then that limits the area's where your house can be placed. For every service you don't have, you will be required to make room for something else on your own property. Compensating for the lack of services can be expensive up front.

Taxes and Development Fees

Some vacant land requires that you pay taxes when you pruchase it, especially if it's an undeveloped piece of property. These taxes depending on where you live can be as high as 15% of the purchase price.
If there isn't an existing home or building on the property then you could be subject to large development fees that will cut into your overall house budget. Today municipalities are charging about 8 to 10 times the cost of the building permit for said development fees.

Whatever you end up buying you are going to want to know everything that you can about the property.  This will save you from wasting time and money on things in the future instead of spending that time having the home built.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders

Thursday, March 17, 2016

A Hot Real Estate Market, Now Is The Time To Build That Custom Home In Collingwood

With the real estate market in and around Collingwood/The Blue Mountains producing record prices for resale homes, partly from the mass of people that are trying to move to the area and the overall lack of inventory of homes on the market for sale, it is creating a pinch among people who are looking to move to the Collingwood area, you need another option.

There are a lot of frustrated real estate agents and buyer's out there as they just can't find anything in their price range to buy.

The alternative to buying a home is have a custom home built.

In the past I have always told people that having a custom home built is more expensive then buying a used house, I also argued that you are getting a new home that is designed completely for you and only you instead of buying somebody else's version of their perfect home or problem. But now with the real estate market the way it is I can finally tell people that it is almost the same price to have a house built then to buy one.

If you are looking to own a home in Collingwood or the Town Of The Blue Mountains there are still a lot of vacant residential lots for sale at a reasonable price. These lots range in shape and size to accommodate anyone's budget or any size of home.

When you start comparing the costs of buying a nice home or having one built the costs are becoming really close, with the added benefit that with building a custom home you are getting a brand new home that is energy efficient and will require little to no maintenance going forward for the next 15 to 20 years.

The energy efficiency is a big plus as the cost of heating your home is going up in the next couple years with the New Carbon Tax that is being brought into Ontario. Modern new homes are so much more energy efficient then their predecessors that you can almost not compare them.

So when you get frustrated at looking at because you just can't find anything that you want in the Collingwood area in houses. turn the settings to vacant land and look for a nice piece of property. Once you have found a nice piece of property that you want to live on send me an email and we can talk about your new custom home that I can build you.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Does It Cost More To Heat A Home In The Country?

The simple answer is yes.

The main difference between living in the country and living in the city is your access to natural gas. Very few people that live in the rural country side have access to natural gas.

Natural gas is incredibly cheap compared to every other form of energy to heat your home, this is why in the city very few people heat their homes with any other source of energy.

In the country because of the lack of access to cheap natural gas you have several other options;

  • Electricity. This is one of the simplest forms of heating your country home. Electricity has been the norm for heating country properties for years. So much so that the advancement in heating technology for electricity has grown in leaps and bounds over the past two or three decades. Electric ways of heating your home have advanced so far that heating your home with electricity is the most efficient way to heat a home (per dollar spent) even compared to natural gas. The problem is that the electricity rates in Ontario are now the highest in North America, which means that no matter how efficient you make your electric heating system it will still be more expensive then natural gas.
  • Propane. This is a gas a lot like natural gas, natural gas is more abundant and is delivered through pipes under the ground, where propane has to be delivered by a truck to a storage tank on your property. Propane is more expensive to purchase per litre and also has a much higher delivery fee compared to natural gas. Even though propane heating systems have become much more efficient over the years the cost of it is still quick high even compared to electrical heating systems like heat pumps or geothermal.
  • Oil. Oil furnaces have declined in popularity in the last 10 years mainly due to a couple of factors. The first is that the fluctuation in oil prices make it vertically impossible to budget the cost of the oil you require. Oil needs to be delivered in a truck to your storage tank, this storage tank must be kept inside the home, this means that there is an added delivery fee to using oil as heat. The other reason for the decline in Oil heating is that insurance companies do not want to insure houses that use it. The risk to property and the environment has become to great as if you have a leak you have basically an oil spill to clean up.
  • Wood. People still burn wood for their primary heat in some places. If you have access to fire wood cheaply (as in your own bush) then the cost to heat with it can be fairly cheap. The problem is that wood is extremely labour intensive. If you don't do the labour yourself then the cost of heating with wood is one of the most expensive options you can have. If you have the time and energy to make your own firewood then heating with wood becomes rather inexpensive.
Most people who heat their homes in the country usually use a combination of the above mentioned heating sources. This allows them to level out the costs associated with the country and helps when one heating source jumps in price.

What you need to know is that heating your home in the country will just cost more then in the city. Whatever budget you are working on for leaving the city and moving into the country you need to set aside more money to heat your home. 60% of the energy you use in your home goes to heating your home, that means that higher heating bills can really affect you if your not prepared for it.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Friday, February 26, 2016

New Carbon Tax In Ontario-Means You Should Spend More Money On Insulation In Your New Home

With the Ontario Government at it again raising prices on Natural gas and the ever increasing cost of electricity in Ontario it is more important then ever to have a properly insulated home.

When you are planning to have a new custom home built you should be setting a side money's in your budget for upgraded insulation. Why you ask?
There is no easier way to save money on heating and cooling then upping the insulation R value in a home that you are having custom built.

If your contractor is good at what he does he will make the recommendation of updating your insulation in your new home well before you ask, usually it comes when the house is being put together or (framed).
You can ask your contractor during the estimating process for insulation options so that you will know the costs, but you do have until the insulation is installed to do certain updates to the building insulation envelope.

The building code in Ontario has changed in the last 5 years and with that the standard for upping the R-value (insulation value) in your walls has also increased. But that doesn't mean that the new minimum code is the best that you can do, there are actually many options that help make your home perform better at heating and cooling;

Spray foam: Spray foam far exceeds any other insulation type in the way that it gives more R value per inch then any other insulation product. This allows you to up your R-value without altering the wall cavities of the home. It also expands when it is installed filling in all the small crevices that allow air leakage. Once it has dried and hardened it will not slip or move no matter what the circumstances. This way of insulating stops drafts and air leakage a lot better then conventional batted insulation. You don't have to spray foam everything in the house, spray foam can be used with almost any other combination of insulation to help seal your home. This flexibility allows you to fit a small amount of spray foam into your budget or a lot of spray foam if you have a larger budget.

ICF; ICF or (Insulated Concrete Forms) are not just an insulation they are a completely different way to build the exterior walls of your home. ICF is basically a giant lego block made out of foam and plastic webbing. the foam is on the outside of the wall and also on the inside of the wall. Concrete is poured down the middle of the block foam wall creating a concrete wall that is wrapped in foam insulation. This gives you the R-value you need for the building code, but it also gives you something a lot more. It gives you what is called thermal mass. Thermal mass is what makes in-floor heating work so well, once the concrete mass in the walls is warmed (or cooled) by your furnace then it takes a long time to cool down. It will actually radiate heat and because it's insulated on both sides it doesn't take much to warm it up. ICF walls do not suffer from "wind wash". Wind wash is when you have a high windchill outside and the wall cools down, this usually makes it hard for the furnace in the house to keep the place at temperature. ICF walls because they are insulated on both sides and are concrete at the core do not allow the windchill to penetrate the wall at all. Thus windchill has little to no affect on the inside temperature of your home.

Sheet Foam: Sheet foam is just what it sounds like, it is sheets of foam that you apply to the walls of home. This is usually done to the outside of the home, but can be done as a retrofit to the inside of your home if you have brick or stone that cannot be removed to allow for the added insulation. The sheets of foam cover the studs of the walls and thus helps stop the heat loss that happens through the studs on wood framed homes. Sheet foam also helps to stone wind wash.

Double Prairie Walls: This is a type of construction where you actually build two exterior walls, one in front of the other.The first wall is built conventionally as a 2x6 wall, insulated and vapor barriered. The only difference, you do not install any electrical or plumbing in the wall. A couple inches in front of that wall you build a second wall made out of 2x4's, this wall is also insulated but not vapor barriered. All the plumbing and electrical go in this wall. This helps create an exterior wall with little to no penetrations in it and also creates more insulation value as you have a second wall with insulation in it. It also helps to stop wind wash as there is a heated cavity space between the walls to allow the cold air to warm up before it enters the home.

There are many other ways to help seal up your home and also many other options to insulate your home, talk to your contractor as your budget will play a bigger part in how you insulate your home then what you want your insulation to be.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Pay Now Or Pay Later: Buying vs Building A Custom Home

When deciding to either buy a house or have a house built (a custom home), you are going to have to weigh all the pro's and con's for both. One of the things that you are going to have to come to terms with is that one is a simpler process then the other.

Buying an existing home is a far easier thing to do then building a brand new home. The reason for this is that it takes a tremendous amount of your own time to build a brand new home. I don't mean that it takes a lot of your time because you are out there everyday swinging a hammer and carrying lumber, I mean that it takes a lot of your time to plan, choose and decide on where you want your home to be built, what you want it to look like (inside and out) and making decisions on changes as they arrive during the building process.

Now buying an existing home doesn't mean that you can just buy it and move in and never worry about it again, sooner or later you will be doing renovations on the house or repairs. No home lasts forever and existing homes have already had there clock started to the next renovation before you ever even moved in.

For all the time and effort that you put into having a new custom home built you will end up with a brand new home that comes with a warranty, a home that is built just for you and is finished the way you want it so that it is tailored to your life and your needs. The same can't be said for buying an existing home.

When you are buying an existing home you are buying someone else's vision of a home, that means that more then likely you will be compromising on some aspects of the home because you like other parts of it or you like the location or you like the property that it comes with. As you live in the home you will adapt to the home and how it works and the area's or concerns that you have with it you will attempt to address with renovations or additions.

One of the biggest differences between buying an existing home and building a brand new custom home is that the new custom home will probably cost you more to start with but less for the next twenty years, the existing home will usually cost you less to buy originally but will cost you more over the next 20 years in renovations, repairs and comprises. 

For all that personal time and effort that you will have to put into the building of a new custom home think about all the time you will save for the next twenty years after it is built when you don't have to worry about repairs and renovations.

It's up to you, spend the money and time now and build a new home or spend time and more money over the next twenty years on an existing home.

The choose is yours,

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Modern Country Home

Most people when they think about country homes think about wood sided, brick or stone covered exteriors with big veranda's or covered porches. The insides have wood timbers and lots of wood trim. Well it's time to change your thinking, welcome to the modern country home.

The modern country home is becoming more popular these days, these homes are usually a single story, open concept, the open concept design allows for the home to be built smaller then conventional homes but still feel like there is a lot of space  inside to live. They have metal exteriors that are good for a life time without the need to repaint or replace after several years of severe country weather.

The home that was recently featured in the winter addition of Our Homes Magazine 2016 was built in that image. If you haven't seen the article here is a link to it:

Modern single story bungalow fits the live style of an aging population and the smaller size of the home overall lends it to the younger generation of people who are looking to live in a home with little overhead or carrying costs and don't see the need for more space that they have to spend time cleaning or up-keeping.

Built right these modern homes with there clean and simple lines inside and out require less maintenance and allow for a wider range of unique decorating options.

Modern buildings usually have simple roof lines that allow for low maintenance, long life roofing materials to be installed. This not only helps keep your maintenance costs down it helps raise the resale value of your home in the long run.

If you want to incorporate a little of the country into the home you can still install fireplaces, wood floors or other natural details that will bring a little natural beauty to the home without compromising the look and feel of the modern effect.

Remember when you are planning to build that country home you don't have to be stuck with the conventional country home, you can think more modern and make yourself and your home standout!

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Village Builders House In Our Homes Magazine 2016

Village Builders has a home featured in the 2016 Ski Season issue of Our Homes Magazine. It is the magazines 10th anniversary issue.

The home is built in Grey Highlands and is built to be a minimalist home.

The home is designed by Stark Architecture to the exact specifications of the homeowners. The home has a standing seam steel roof and steel siding making the outside of the home completely maintenance free.

The inside of the home is finished in white and has the minimum amount of trim around the doors and baseboards, the windows in the home are all drywall returned.

One the most unique features in the home is that it has a Tesla charging station in it for the electric Tesla car. The charger is actually able to handle charging multiple electric cars at once.

The subtle and unique details throughout the home make a warm and interesting home.

A lot of care and detail was put forth towards the energy efficiency of the home so that overall caring costs of the home are quite small.

Take sometime and read the article and see what a truly custom home looks like.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Want To Lower Your Effect On The Environment, Renovate

If you are as worried about the environment and your impact on it as a lot of us are these days but you don't know what to do about it, maybe you should think about renovating your home.

It might sound like you are just wasting resources and creating garbage but in reality if you do your renovation right you will not only help lower your impact on the environment you could also help save yourself some money in the long term.

The average home in North America needs to be renovated after about 15 years, the reason for that is not just that styles change but also because things wear out, become damaged or become outdated.

Today's residential construction industry is an ever changing and evolving thing with new products coming out all the time. Most of the new products that are being brought to market these days have an eye to being eco-friendly, some of these products are better then others at this.

One of the biggest changes in homes is the overall use of water, the trend now has been to use less and less water but still give the homeowner the same results. With advances in technology toilets, showerheads and sinks use far less water then ever before. As long as you buy good quality products you shouldn't notice a difference in the performance of these fixtures you will just save money on your water bill and lessen your overall water consumption.

One of the biggest impacts your home has is in the amount of energy that it uses to heat and cool it. This is were renovating really starts to save you money in the long run. When you renovate it allows you to upgrade the heating system to something more energy efficient, while your doing that you can also upgrade the technology that runs the heating system (thermostats, electric dampers). To help your heating system use less energy you should upgrade the insulation in the walls and ceilings, up grade the windows and with these changes and fixes you end up filling the small gaps and opening in and around the outside walls with caulking and foam. All of this adds up to saving energy to heat and cool the home which is good for the environment and in the long run saves you money.

When you refuse to renovate you run the risk of causing more damage to parts of your home from leaks, breaks and malfunctions in some of the main systems and fixtures of the home. Like a car your home needs to be maintained or when one thing starts to malfunction then it can affect other parts of the home, this leads to a larger problem and the cost for you the homeowner only rises.

There are other benefits to renovating your home, it increases the resale value of the home, your enjoyment of the home and how you and other people feel while they are in it. Renovating your home can change the way you live your life, if you were to say renovate your basement so that it isn't a cold and damp place then you might use it more and not need to add a addition onto the house. You might upgrade the heating system allowing your home to be warmed easier with less energy and those you can leave the thermostat set a little higher without worrying about using to much energy.

So while you are thinking about better ways to help out the environment take some time and look around your own home, you might be surprised at what you can do to with some renovations.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

2016 - The Year YOU Get Your Dream Custom Home?

New Year, New Homes

Let 2016 be the year that you finally stop living in somebody else's home and start building that dream home that you always wanted!

There is no better time then this year to get yourself a custom home.

Most people want to start the building of their new home in the spring and why not you have been stuck inside because of winter and would like to have you home ready to live in before the next one arrives. To do this you should be starting the process of the design of your home NOW.

If you wait till later on in the winter closer to spring you run the risk that the architect or designer that you want to draw the home is to busy to complete your drawings before spring arrives.

The sooner that you are able to get the drawings completed the sooner that you are able to bring them to a builder for a quote. Like architects and designers builders become busier with not only quoting but actual work the closer that it gets to the actual spring.

The best way to make sure that you get the service you want from your architect/designer and the most attention from perspective builders is to get them your dream home plans early. The longer they have to help you with them the smoother the build process will be, the smoother the process of the actual construction usually means a saving's for you the homeowner.

So if you really want your new custom dream home ready to live in before next winter you should be STARTING RIGHT NOW!

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.