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.