Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Designing Your Large Renovation

When you are looking for a contractor to take on a large renovation that includes kitchens, bathrooms and large parts of the actual layout of your home or chalet then its not just important to find a contractor that can do the work but they also will need to be able to help you with the overall layout and flow of the home.

What do I mean by the layout and the flow of the home? Well if you were building a new home it's something that your architect would be worried about. It's how the home actually functions for you and your family.

Now style is important when doing any renovation but its not the only thing that you have to consider. One of the biggest mistakes people make is that they get so wrapped up in the style of the home that they forget about how the home is suppose to perform and function.

Whatever style you like has to be able to work within your life, that means that you shouldn't be planning renovations that don't improve the quality of your life just to fit a trend or style.

Here are some things to consider when you are planning a large renovation of your home or chalet;


The placement of the rooms in your home is very important. If your planning to move things around in the house make sure that you are not putting the bathrooms all the way at one end of the house, farthest away from the rooms that you use all the time. Nobody wants to miss a big part of the movie because it takes to much time to walk to the bathroom and back.


This is one of the biggest changes in houses in the last 25 years. Homes went from having designated and closed off rooms to being open and flowing from one room to the next. Kitchens should flow into the next room whether that room is the dining room or the living room. People cooking want to be able to interact with their guests and vice versa.


If you have a living room filled with couches and chairs that is hard to navigate through just to get to a main area like the kitchen then you don't have good flow. You want people to be able to move around your home in designated walk ways so that travel from one room to another is simple and obvious. That doesn't mean that you need hallways everywhere, just the opposite actually.

In new homes this is all organized by the architect as they draw the house they give you ideas of the best possible way to achieve Placement, Openness and Flow. But in an existing home that is about to undergo a serious renovation its up to the homeowner to achieve these 3 things.

But how do you as a homeowner do this? Well the simplest thing is to find a contractor that can do this for you, someone that can not only give you the high end renovation that you desire but also help you in the planning an layout of the home. A good contractor will have plenty of experience doing this for people and will already understand the basics of placement, openness and flow.

Now you can have plans created by a draftsmen or interior designer, these will help but once walls start coming down and floors are stripped there are always changes that have to happen, these changes are best handled by the contractor working with you.

Where do you find a contractor that can help you with all of this?
You just found them....

Great Lakes Custom Homes Inc.

We don't just help people with new custom homes, we also spend a lot of time renovating peoples homes and chalets. Usually we are doing this with little too no plans from the homeowners or other design professionals. Communication is the key, the more informed choice you are able to give the homeowner the better, the more information they have from us will also help the project move along at a faster pace and have a much smoother finish.

If you are planning a large renovation project and think that we could help you with it please feel free to email us at greatlakescustomhomes@gmail.com

Let us help you,

Rob Abbott
Great Lakes Custom Homes Inc.

Monday, October 14, 2019

New Pools Need New Fences

Do you want to install a pool at your home?

Well you better budget for all new fencing and gates around your backyard.

When people budget for a pool they never seem to consider that their existing fencing around their backyard (which has worked so well for their kids and the dogs) is completely illegal if they install a pool.

This happens so often that when building inspectors show up to do an inspection of the pool (because if you want to put a pool in you will need a building permit) they barely look at the pool, they spend the majority of their time inspecting not only the fencing that is surrounding the yard that the pool is in but also every gate and entrance that lead to that area.

I have had building inspectors actually go off topic when they are there to inspect something else (during a new house build) just to point out that all the existing fences are illegal.

One of the major problems you will have if your fencing and/or gates are illegal is that the building inspectors will deny you the ability to fill the pool with water because of safety concerns. If you can't fill the pool with water then you actually can't finish the pool. When pool companies install your finished waterproof liner they instantly fill the pool to hold the liner down, without water they won't install the liner. Without the liner your cant use your pool.

At the beginning when you start to figure out the budget for your new pool you better remember to either talk to your current contractor or call a fence contractor about the cost of replacing your fence/gates. This could be a big ticket item depending on how much fence you are required to install and what type of fence it will be.

When you start talking about replacing fences it's not just up to you, your neighbours have a say in it as well, because depending on what side of the lot line the fence is sitting on your neighbour could own part or all of the fence. In a normal backyard in town most people have more then one neighbour, they could have up to as many as 5 different neighbours that they have to deal with. One of them could cause major problems for you if you don't get their permission in advance from them about replacing fences.

You don't want to end up not being able to finish your new pool because you didn't secure enough money or neighbours permission for your fences!

Proper planning makes proper builds.

Rob Abbott
Great Lakes Custom Homes Inc.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Proper Wood Siding Installation

Air Flow is more important then you think when it comes to wood siding!

Recently I was called to a home that had siding that had some problems. The pre-painted wood siding was curling, cupping, splitting and the knots were starting to bleed through the paint.

I was shocked when the homeowner told me that the siding was only 2 years old, I had assumed that it was 10 plus years old and the damage caused to the siding was from years of weather and the southern exposure to the sun.

How could siding that is put on so many new homes start to fail so quickly on this home?

What I discovered was that there wasn't enough space at the top and the bottom of the siding to allow air to pass through it to allow the siding to breath.

That's right wood siding needs to breath.

Wood is a natural product and like every natural product there are certain things you have to do to make sure that it will last as long as it can. One of the main things that you have to do is provide proper air flow.

How do you accomplish this with wood siding that is nailed to a house wall?

Every manufacturer of wood siding will send out an installation manual with the product, your siding installer will need to at the least give it a glance. Why does a professional need to read the manual on siding that they have probably installed hundreds of times? Because every siding manufacturer has a slightly different installation method and has slightly different products to accomplish it. If your installer doesn't complete the installation exactly how the manufacturer states then you could be risking your warranty.

The reason for the exact way they require you to install the siding is to make sure that the siding lasts as long as it should.

On this particular job the installer had installed the siding without leaving enough space (they actually left no space at all) at the bottom and at the top to allow air to pass in behind the siding. To achieve this you have to leave a minimum of 1/2 of an inch gap at the bottom and also 1/2 an inch at the top. There are special flashing's that are supplied with the siding from the manufacturer to help achieve this, these flashing's limit any water, rodent or bugs from entering these gaps while letting the air to pass through as freely as possible.

These area's require special attention as they are the biggest difference between all the siding manufacturer's. Each manufacturer supplies different flashing's and a different installation method because of said flashing's.

These flashing's and the time it takes to install them usually make the difference in sub-trades prices. The sub-trade doing the installation the right way should be charging you more because they are taking the time to do it right, the one with the rock bottom prices is usually doing things as fast as possible with little regard to what is required for the warranty.

Something as simple as air-flow could destroy your expensive siding.

Hire a professional and get it done right the first time.

Rob Abbott
Great Lakes Custom Homes Inc.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Now Is The Time To Start That Fall Renovation

As we close in on the end of August and the start of September (the kids finally go back to school) the clock starts to run on contractors ability to start and finish renovations before Christmas.

Why is Christmas the big goal? Because its the first thing everyone thinks of when they start a renovation or new home build, will it be done for Christmas.

If you start a renovation project after October there is a good chance that you will not get it completed before Christmas.

As you approach Christmas not only does your hired contractor become busier but so does all the sub-trades that they rely on. The electricians, the plumbers, the drywallers and the tilers all end up booked for months ahead of time.

Its hard to finish a renovation when you can't get the sub-trades to show up on time or at all.

The later you wait to start your fall renovation the greater the risk you take in not having it finished before Christmas.

With September only a week away you are already starting to run out of time.  Starting in the middle of September only gives you 3.5 months before Christmas comes. That's if you can find someone to start that fast, usually they won't be able to start until October making it less then 3 months.

Stop waiting till the kids are back to school and the house is quiet, start looking for that contractor and planning your renovation now!

Let's get these going before it's to late.

Rob Abbott
Great Lakes Custom Homes Inc.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Share Your Renovation Budget With Your Contractor

 Many a time I have been called to someones home or cottage and they tell me they are in need of renovations. Sometimes the renovations are major and sometimes the renovations are minor.

One of the questions that I ask these people is what is their budget for their project. I do this to help both of us,

  1. It helps tell me if you can afford the renovations that you are proposing to me
  2. It lets me guide the client to things that will fit in their budget.
Sometimes people will either ignore the question or tell me that they don't want to tell me their budget.

The reasons that they don't want to share this information varies widely but it does happen more often then it should.

When you don't share your budget with your contractor you might think that you are then getting a price that isn't set off the budget that you told them, its the same mentality that people use when talking to real estate agents. They tell the real estate agents that they want to spend a 1 million dollars on a home and the real estate agent proceeds to only show you houses that are between 1 million and 1.5 million dollars and never shows them the houses under a million dollars. 

Well that is not how it works in construction. In construction most contractors don't raise and lower the price depending on the budget. Most good contractors are estimating jobs all the time and don't have the time or the patience to make up new markups and prices for every single job that comes across their desks. They have figured out the cost of doing things and they know the mark up they need to charge to make a profit and pay the bills and that's how they price jobs.

Knowing that, what you need to understand is if you tell your contractor that you have a budget for $100,000 for renovations on your kitchens, bathrooms, living room and great room and they figure out the cost is $140,000 then they give you the choice of what you want to renovate for the $100,000. They don't ask you for more money they just help you renovate what you can for your budget. Its means that you might not get your basement renovated or maybe the kitchen. They adjust to fit your budget.

Contractors will work with your budget, they will help you spend your budget with the renovations that you can afford, if you decide that you don't want to spend the entire budget then they will adjust the renovations so that you save money. Maybe they recommend a less expensive tile in the bathrooms or the deletion of some cabinets to help you lower the budget.

Every contractor wants to do more work but they also want to get paid for their work, if they allow the project to go severally over budget they then risk you not having enough money to pay the final bill, nobody wants that.

When I meet with people for renovations I spend a lot of time talking them out of things that don't fit in their budget. I'm basically talking them out of giving me work, but they have shared their budget with me and that tells me if they can afford it or not. This happens a lot with people who want additions, they have underestimated what additions cost per square feet and they have asked for too large of an addition compared to their budget. A simple shrinking of the additions helps it fit in your budget.

As a contractor I try to make my clients happy, my clients won't be happy if they end up way over budget, so if you can change their minds and adjust their thinking about what they can afford and what they really need right from the starting line then the rest of the job will go a lot smoother and at the end everyone will be happy and paid!

So when you meet with your contractor for that first renovation talk don't be afraid to tell them what your budget is, it will be beneficial for all parties. The contractor will have a budget to work from and a clear direction to lead you too get the renovations you want (and renovations you require) while keeping you within the budget that you have specified.

Rob Abbott 

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Does Your Rural Property Have Access To Electricity?

If you are looking at buying property in the country to build a new custom home one thing that most people don't consider is if their is access to electricity.

That's right access to electricity. 

In rural Ontario there are still some places that do not have easy access to the electricity grid.

In fact as more and more land gets bought up for people to live on people are being forced to look at less desirable places. These places have many problems from excess ground water to conservation protected lands, these things restrict building or can outright ban it. 

These things are all easily found out when doing your do diligence from looking at maps and talking to municipal building departments, what you won't find is if there is electricity available.

Now the easiest way to tell if there is electricity at the road is to look for power lines and poles. Now even if you don't see power lines and poles there is a chance that the power is buried underground, but in rural Ontario almost nowhere do they actually put the power underground. That usually only happens in a more settled area with denser populations.

To find out where the nearest power supply is you will need to drive in every direction from the property until you can find the nearest electrical poles. This will help you identify how far the power will have to be extended.

Doing this is called a line extension. 

A line extension is not free and in a lot of cases the cost is very high. You have to pay for the entire line extension project even if you are putting it past other properties that will benefit from you extending the electrical grid. 

That's right the electrical supplier is under no obligation to help cover the costs of bringing you power. Its entirely on your shoulders.

How do you find the costs out? You have to call the electrical supplier and engage them in a line extension layout. This will cost you money, they will then be able to give you an accurate cost estimate on how much the poles will cost and also how much the tree cutting will cost also.

What do you do about it?

Well before you start the planning and building process you need to engage a general contractor and hire him to build your custom home. Your general contractor can then get you the costing for the electricity and advise you if you should pay for the installation of it or look into other alternatives.

What are the alternatives?

Well one alternative is to sell the property and move on to a property that doesn't require a line extension for you to have electricity. But a lot of people don't have that option.

The other alternative is to go off the grid with solar and or wind.

There are pro's and con's to going off the grid. I won't get into them here, but having an off the grid house is not as simple as most people believe it to be. 

They most reliable source of energy is to be hooked to the power grid.

So when you start looking for that perfect place in the country to build your dream custom home stop and look around for the electricity supply, if you have doubts then call a contractor, it might just save you more money then the cost of the electricity.

Village Builders Inc. 

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Install A Drain Water Heat Recovery Unit In Your Custom Home

Planning to build a new home in the Collingwood area? Then you will need to budget for a drain water heat recovery unit.

What is a drain water heat recovery unit?

It is basically a copper pipe that is installed in the main plumbing drain/stack that comes from your showers. The copper pipe is installed vertically and has copper tubing wrapped around it. The reason for the tubing wrapping around it is so you can connect the incoming water lines from the city water.

You then run the water lines from the other end of the tubing to your hotwater tank.

The way it works is as follows;

When you turn on your shower the hot water runs down the drain and down the plumbing stack that is now copper. The copper absorbs the heat from the hot waste water that is flowing through it and heats up. The copper tubing that is wrapped around the copper drain also heats up.

Since you have turned on the hot water for a shower that hot water starts to be removed from the hot water tank to flow to the shower, the hot water tank then starts to allow new water to be added so that it can warm it up to keep the tank full. That water flows from the municipal lines outside and is usually cold. But as the new cold water runs into the building it now runs around the heated copper pipe warming that water up.

When the new water now arrives to the hot water tank it isn't cold anymore, its actually quiet warm. The water has now been pre-heated before it entered the hot water tank.

What is the benefit of this?

Pre-heating the water that goes into the hot water tank allows the hot water tank to use less energy to keep your water to the desired temperature, this means that you save money on gas/electricity for not having to heat as much water.

It also means that you shorten the time that it takes to make hot water. So if you have a lot of people needing to tank showers then you shouldn't have to worry as much about running out of water because the water that enters the hot water tank is already warmed to a certain point.

Eventually this drain system pays for itself with the money it saves you on your energy bills.

When you are planning your new custom home ask your contractor about a drain water heat recovery unit.

Village Builders Inc.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Heat Your New Home With Electricity

When you are planning to build a new custom home in the country where there is no access to Natural Gas for heating is Propane the only option and is it the best option?

This question I hear a lot these days as more and more people want to build a new place in the country away from natural gas lines.

The question is a good one, most people think that because you can't get natural gas you just switch to propane because their both gases and their probably the same costs to heat homes. Well that is a major misconception.

Propane is far more expensive then natural gas when you are comparing costs of heating your home. What makes natural gas so cheap is that it is delivered underground through lines that are permanently placed in the ground. Propane has to be delivered in a truck to your own personal tank every time that you need to have it filled. Basically the delivery fee of propane is a lot higher then natural gas and because there are so many more users of natural gas it helps keep the cost in check.

Natural gas also has a pretty consistent cost, the average price goes up and down year to year but the change is slow, propane on the other hand can swing wildly from season to season. In the past couple of years we have seen propane costs double during the winter when people need it the most and then come back to normal in the summer when it isn't.  Depending on when you fill your propane tank will determine how much you will end up paying for your heating fuel.

Most people don't think that there really is a cost effective alternative but there is and it is heating with electricity.

Now I'm not telling you to build a brand new custom home and then install baseboard heaters in it. Electric heat has actually come along way in the past couple of decades and because of the dramatic increase in the electricity rates in Ontario they have been forced to come up with more efficient options for electricity.

There are two main ways to heat in the country with electricity;

1. Geothermal. Geothermal is a wonderful way to heat your home. Its very consistent and its actually a very simple system. Geothermal is glycol filled lines that are installed deep in the ground. Glycol is basically a fancy name for alcohol. These lines absorb the heat from the ground and then transport that heat to your furnace. The furnace squeezes it through a radiator inside your furnace while air is blow across it. That air is warmed to your desired temperature and transported throughout the house in the duct work. The system works in reverse in the warm summer months to provide the house with air conditioning.

2. Air to Air heat pumps. This is pretty close to the same design as the geothermal heating and cooling, the difference is that it makes the heat and cooling from the outside air beside your home. There are many different types of heat pumps, depending on the efficiency will determine how well the heat pump works in extreme cold temperatures. This system is also less costly to install then geothermal.

Both systems don't just make heat from the air and ground they also make air conditioning for the warm summer months and they do it at a much more efficient rate then a normal air conditioner that you get with a propane furnace.

Geothermal heating has an added benefit that it provides free hotwater into your hotwater tank the more air conditioning that you use. That means that you actually use less energy in the summer running the air conditioning in your home then if you didn't run it at all, that's because it takes more energy to make hotwater then it does to create air conditioning.

There are other ways to help limit the cost of your heating system when using electricity. Adding more insulation into your new home when you are building will make it easier to heat your home and if you add solar panels you can offset the electricity that you use to heat and cool.

So when you talk to your contractor about building your new custom home talk to them about the heating system, talk to them about heating with electricity.

Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

It's Half Load Season

It's half load season!

That's right that time of year where spring has started to arrive and construction starts to run up against the rules of weight on trucks on municipal roads.

What is half loads? It is a limit to the amount a large truck can have on each axle.Usually it is 5 tonnes per axle.

What does this mean to you? It means that if you want lumber delivered, concrete delivered or anything else that is heavy and is delivered to you then you might not be able to get it because the truck carrying it with the load on it is heavier then 5 tonnes per axle.

That doesn't mean that you can't get concrete or lumber delivered it means that you can't get as much of it as at once as you normally would. The problem arises because of the cost to ship it to you is the same, the company has to pay the person driving the truck, there's still the same amount of fuel burned in the truck and the same wear and tear on the truck. The only thing is that there isn't as much product on the delivery.

So the cost to get you that product is the same but there's not as much product on the truck, that means that when you want 8 cubic metres of concrete delivered to you house and the cost is usually 150 dollars a meter then the cost should be $1200. But with the load restrictions they can only bring you 2 cubic metres per truck, that means that they will need 4 extra trucks. So then the cost will go up, lets say that you are still paying the 150 a metre but because they have to send you more truck they have to charge you a surcharge of 75 dollars a metre. All of a sudden you are paying 1800 for the same amount of concrete.

Now you can simply wait for the load restrictions to be lifted and a lot of people do, but sometimes the load restrictions can last a lot longer then you think.

What determines how long the load restrictions last? It is up to the road superintendent. Every municipality has one and they will decide on their own. It has to do with how thawed the ground is, how wet the weather is, what the weather looks like going forward and what shape the actual roads are in.

When do they start? The half loads usually start now on March 1st and are scheduled to come off at the end of April/start of May. That doesn't mean that they will. A lot of times the restrictions are kept on for longer until the road supervisor is satisfied that its safe to start running heavy trucks over the road.

The longest time that I have ever seen them stay on is until June the 6th. That's right June the 6th. That is a long time to wait for your construction project to keep moving forward.

One other thing you need to remember is that if you wait until the half loads are off then you are going to try and get trades and product when everyone else is attempting to do it. The two weeks after the half loads come off are the busiest time of the year for a lot of companies. Delays are guaranteed.

So when scheduling work to be completed on your home or when you are wanting to start building a new custom home remember about the half loads, they could delay your project months.

Village Builders Inc.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Proper Water Management Around Your New Custom Home

When you are planning to build a new custom home or put an addition on an existing home something that a lot of people don't think about is the finished grade that will be around the home.

I have seen a lot of homes that are either built into hills or in area's that have water runoff that didn't think about the grading and ended up with water problems after construction was finished.

What makes it worse is that these water problems only show up at certain times of the year. Usually when there is a large snow melt, or an extremely heavy rain storm.

Now some people can live with a little water penetration into there garage or basement or crawlspace once a year or once every two years when you have some freak weather. But what if the weather becomes more freakish all the time. Well with climate change the weather has been changing and becoming more freakish every season, we are breaking records every year for extreme weather and it only looks like its going to get worse not better. That means that the little bit of moisture or water penetration that you handle with a dehumidifier starts to become a constant wet area.

When something becomes a constant wet area then you start to get mold issues, you get wood starting to rot, you get water freezing because of the extreme temperature changes, when water freezes inside concrete or concrete block you have structural damage that starts to happen. Concrete will crack and start to crumble. The more that happens the more water is able to get in and the more damage occurs.

Overtime you don't have a moisture issue you have a major water damage problem. That will cost you a significant amount of money to rehabilitate. A lot of times insurance will not cover these problems.

All of this because you didn't spend enough time considering how the home can best shed water. Now a lot of people do the simple thing like not going deep in the ground with their lower levels, that's a good start but if your house is on any type of grade then water will hit the foundation of your home like water hitting a dam in a river. The water when it is stopped starts to spread out until it finds a path of least resistance, sometimes that's into your home.

Now the simple thing to do is to slope all the area's away from the home, except that if your are on any kind of grade the water can build up enough force that it will travel up the slope and stay against the foundation. The other factor that most people do not consider is that in the spring when you have had a lot of snow fall over the winter, that snow falls off the roof, then the snow can build up freezing and creating a dam near the house. This dam will hold water against the foundation until it penetrates it.

How do you stop this? You need not just positive grade away from the home but you need large sections where the snow can spread out away from the home, weepers in the ground to help take the melt water away from the home. One other thing that you can do is design the roof of the home so that it sheds most of it's water away from the higher grade, this eliminates the snow from piling up on the uphill side. This can be achieved by turning the pitch of the roof, adding dormers or building a different type of roof like a low slope roof that slopes to the downhill side.

This type of thing though must be thought about before your new build or addition starts to be constructed, it goes back to the planning stage with your architect. Doing these types of things will ensure that you don't have a lot of problems later with water and a lot of clean up bills.

Village Builders Inc.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Spring Construction Season Has Arrived

The sun is shining, birds are signing and soon the framing guns will be ringing. That's right it's the official start to construction!

Now construction never actually stops anymore in this area but this time of the year is when most people start thinking about their own construction projects.

Whether you are thinking about building a;
  • New House
  • An addition to your home or cottage
  • Renovating your home or cottage
  • Adding or repairing decks or porches
  • Building a treehouse for the little ones
  • Adding bathrooms
  • New kitchens
Or a combination of any of the above, if you are planning on any of these then you best get started with your plans and budgeting soon. Because soon all the contractors that you are interested in talking too might be either booked up for the rest of the summer or so busy quoting other projects that they can't quote yours in a timely manner.

To avoid this you need to make sure that you start the process early and focus on what you really want in a contractor. You need to find someone that you can work with, someone that doesn't just know what you are doing but also works well with you the homeowner. Because depending on the size and scope of the project you could end up working with this person for a while and if you don't get a long then your project will not be enjoyable.

One thing to remember about the spring is that the real estate market really picks up, with the increase in home sales comes the increase in demand for contractors to help repair, renovate or add to homes that have just recently been purchased. These projects usually come about quickly and start just as fast. They can take a contractor in the spring from being available to completely booked for most of the spring and summer. The hotter the real estate market the worse this problem becomes. 

In a lot of cases contractors can find themselves booked all the way until next year with the work they pick up in the spring from people buying and selling real estate.

All of these market forces can affect your efforts to get your project priced and completed, that's why the number one thing I tell people is to start early and keep at it until you find what you need to get your project completed.

If you have a project that you are wanting completed this spring/summer send us an email at info@villagebuilders.ca and lets see if we can help.

Village Builders Inc. 

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Lack Of Homes Pushes People To Build New Custom Homes In Collingwood Area

If you are looking to move up to the Collingwood/Thornbury/Town of The Blue Mountains area and you just started looking at real estate, you might be disappointed at the utter lack of houses that are for sale in the area.

This is because there are simply not enough homes in the area for the amount of people that want to move here. There is also not a lot of people that are moving out of the area to go somewhere else. There has been enough development in infrastructure that people of all ages can now live here.

This has created a scenario that has seen the price of homes rise and the demand for those homes rise as well. Supply and demand in action.

What is a person to do if they can't find a house that properly suits their needs?

You could always build yourself a new house.

That's right you could build a new custom home for yourself. There are still pieces of property inside and outside of town that you can buy and build a new house on.

How do you get started?
  1. Look on the real estate listings for a home that will suit your family, if you can't find anything there then you might need to build a new home.
  2. Once you have decided on building a new home you will need to figure out what your budget is, remember that a new custom home might cost you a little more then buying a used home, but its a brand new home not something some else has already used.
  3. Start looking around through the real estate listings for the perfect piece of property to build a new custom home on, this is were real estate agents really come in handy. Remember that the cost of your lot will come out of the new home budget.
  4. Find yourself an architect/builder. Why do I say both? Because you need at least one of them, an architect can find you a builder, but also a builder can find you an architect. They both can advise you on how much building a new home will cost and what you can afford.
  5. Once you have both then you can plan your new home and budget for it.This might take longer then you think as architects are fairly busy these days, every time you change the drawings or adjust something in the plan you extend the design time that it takes to get the plan completed.
  6. Secure your financing. If you don't have the luxury of having all the money already to build your new home then you will need to take your plans and the budget that your builder has given you to a financial institution for funds. Do not make the mistake of taking less money then what your builder has budgeted. Thinking that you will com under budget is a mistake. You might come under budget in your build but if you don't then there will be a point in the build where you run out of money and the build will come to a stop until you can secure more funding.
  7. Get your permits. This might take sometime depending on how many different organizations will be involved (municipal building department, conservation authority, escarpment committee).
  8. Build your new home.
It sounds easy and its not actually very hard it just takes some time and patience. Remember one thing about building a new custom home, in the end it might cost you more then a re-sale home but as soon as your new home is completed its probably worth more then what you paid to have it built.

This entire process will go smoother with the right companies, find the right ones for each step and the process will be a lot smoother and less stressful.

If your moving to the area and want to build a custom home send us an email and let us help.

Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Generator For My New Home?

Does my new custom home need a backup generator?

This is a question that I get asked a lot when people are setting the budget for their new custom home build. Its a good question and one that isn't as simple as you would think.

What is a stand by back up generator?

A stand by generator is the type of generator that is connected to a gas supply (natural or propane), it's wired into a sub-panel in your new home and when the electricity fails in the home the generator automatically turns on and powers whatever is hooked up to the sub-panel. You as the homeowner do not have to do anything, you don't have to flip a switch, turn a dial or put fuel in anything. The entire point of the system is to start and stop by itself when there is a lack of electricity.

This means that the system works when you are not at home, it also means that you don't get to power your entire house. The system is designed to only power what you have put in the sub-panel.

What is a sub-panel? 

It is a smaller electrical panel that is placed near the main electrical panel. It has a smaller capacity and usually has less room in it for electrical breakers. The generator is sized to the amount of the load that you are going to draw. The load will depend on what you are actually trying to power, the more you want to power by the generator the larger the generator. 

Stand by generators are expensive.

That's right they are not cheap, they work well but they are not inexpensive. This is one of the reasons that you should way the benefits of having one compared to the cost of buying one. 

If you have things that are critical that require constant power then a generator like this will be a no brainer. Here are some of the systems that you might want constant uninterrupted power too;
  • Sump pump. If you have high water levels around your new home you will want your sump pump to always turn on especially in extreme weather that can knock out the power grid.
  • Freezers. If you have freezers with perishables in it and they can't lose power.
  • Work. If your job depends on you always having power to your devices or equipment.
  • Medical equipment. If you or someone in the home needs constant power to medical equipment for a life or death scenario.
  • You want power. In the modern work some people just can't survive without all the modern conveniences. Electricity is a must for quality of life.
  • Heating units. Depending on how cold the climate is where you live being without power could be dangerous.
  • Electric car. If the only vehicles you own are electric then being able to charge them off a generator might be essential.
There are some cons to having a stand by generator;
  • Cost of installation. They are expensive to have installed.
  • They use gas even when not needed. Every week they turn on for a while and run a test cycle burning fuel. They do this so that they will always work when the power actually does fail.
  • They require maintenance like any thing that has a motor.
  • They take up room on the side of your house. If you are tight to the lot lines then they could be in the way of you trying to get around the house.
  • Generators are limited in what they can power, there will always be things that will not be able to be wired into the generator. You will have to make sacrifices.
Whether you install a generator or not will depend on you making a list of needs and wants, you will have to decide if a generator is a need or a want. Then you can decide if it fits in your budget and the maintenance of it going forward.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Mistakes When Buying Real Estate

When you are looking at a home to buy in the type of real estate market that is today, (a market where there isn't a lot of homes for sale and the price of those homes has risen with the market demand) don't start projecting your dream home on to it.

What do I mean by "projecting your dream home" on a resale home? It means that you look at a home and you start envisioning all the renovations that you would do to it to make it your own.

Now this is a common practice with home buyers, to envision what a home could look like with some changes, but what starts to happen in a tight market (with limited homes for sale) is people start changing everything about the house.

Recently I have been asked for prices from people that wanted to buy homes that wanted me to give them a budget price on renovation work on older homes in the area. The problem is that its not just renovation work that people want they also want to add square footage so the budget price includes an addition. Additions are far and away a lot more money then most of the renovations that are asked for by the potential buyers.
In the end the budget ends up being almost as much as some of the houses that are for sale. These budgets run well into the hundreds of thousands and it ends up throwing a monkey wrench into the deal.

When you are looking to buy a home and you ask a contractor to work up a budget for you be careful what you tell them. If you tell them an endless stream of changes that you want to the house because that is what your dream is then they (the contractor) will work out the cost based on what you have asked for and that can end up being a lot of money all at once.

What you should be doing is putting them into 3 categories;

  1. Immediate repairs. These are things that need to be fixed before you can move in or fairly quickly after you move in, these would be leaky roofs, leaky foundations, broken furnaces, broken windows, etc.
  2. Updates and making the home functional. People are pretty resilient, they will adapt to pretty much anything but it doesn't make life easier or more functional. These things are new room layouts, moving the laundry room, new kitchen, new plumbing, new electrical, new bathrooms, updating insulation, refinishing floors, painting. Houses should be updated and renovated every 15 to 20 years, that's not just for resale but also because everything wears out and will need to be replaced. So unless you bought a house that had just been renovated then you have to figure on renovating the major areas in the house within so many years of moving in. 
  3. Long term Plans. These are plans that will cost a lot more money then you are willing to spend, these plans can change overtime with your life. Examples of this are adding more square footage to the home (an addition). Or building a garage or carport on the property, also demolishing part of the house to rebuild it is a longer term plan. These big ticket items should always be considered part of the longer term, it allows you to save money and properly design something so that you get the most bang for your buck when you fully commit. Additions can a lot of times be added to your home while you still live there, to a certain extent.
If you were to take the rather large budget that you were given by your contractor about the house you want to buy and break it down into those three categories then you can see if spreading out the spending overtime makes sense when buying the home. After decades of spending money on it will you get your money out of it at the end when you sell it? Does spreading the money around for years mean that you can actually afford to spend that money? Do you want to spend that much money over a longer period of time or do you want to spend your money all at once to get it over with?

Deciding on what you want to do renovation wise will help clarify if you can afford to buy the home and also if the house actually will work for you now and in the long term.

Village Builders Inc.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Village Builders is Baeumler Approved

Village Builders is now Baeumler Approved!

Village Builders is proud to announce that they are part of the Baeumler approved team.

You can find us now on the website www.baeumlerapproved.ca

This is a great honour for Village Builders as Baeumler approved only picks the very best and trusted contractors in any area that they service.

Please feel free to email us about your next renovation, addition or custom home build at info@villagebuilders.ca

Or checkout our website at www.villagebuilders.ca

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Construction Forecast 2019 for Collingwood, Blue Mountain, Wasaga Beach, Creemore, Meaford

Residential Construction Forecast 2019 for Creemore, Meaford, Blue Mountains, Collingwood and Wasaga Beach

As I write this the same thing that was driving the construction industry in 2018 is driving the industry around here in 2019, that would be the real estate market.

The real estate market pushed the cost of used homes even higher then ever before with the price of used homes climbing even steeper then we thought it would in one calendar year. That price increase came about from several things;

  1. A large number of people from other parts of Ontario where the real estate market is even higher wanting to move here to work or retire. They like the area and also liked the fact that they could buy something around here that was nicer and larger then their current home for a cheaper price. With more and more people working from home this allows people to move farther from the larger city centres.
  2. A complete lack of inventory of houses that were for sale on the market. The selling season started really early in 2018 in February instead of the traditional spring real estate push. This early start removed a large portion of the houses that were for sale before the spring rush arrived. Thus all houses that were listed in the spring were listed at a much higher number and sold throughout the summer. This kept the prices high and also kept the amount of houses on the market at a minimum.
  3. The lack of development in the past decades. The townships in this area have been slow to embrace development of any kind, especially new home sub-divisions. The result has been that they are now approving developments that are already not enough to satisfy the demand. As they play catch-up this does nothing to lower the demand for houses.
Because of the lack of choice and the lack of houses to buy and the pressure to actually buy homes, people are buying homes that aren't really what they want. What they do once they have them is spend the money (that they saved from selling homes in one area to buy in this area) on renovating their new home and also usually adding square footage thru additions. This has created a lot of construction work as most people don't want to wait long after they have already purchased the home to start renovating it. A lot people try to renovate before they even move in.

Residential Construction Forecast 2019


In Collingwood which is the centre of the real estate spike in the area and the place that people look to live first, this has made the price of century homes a premium. Renovations and additions of these homes can be seen on every street. This will continue well into the future as the older homes are resold to people who have the  means to repair and expand them. Small houses and every vacant lot that remains are being removed and built on with new custom homes. These homes vary in shape and size but the homes that are being built are of a very high quality.

There are sub-divisions being constructed but they are slow to get going and even slower to be finished. This is keeping the cost of used homes at an all time home and also bringing people that want to buy and renovate extensively to the market. Construction in Collingwood does not show any signs of slowing down any time soon.

Town Of The Blue Mountains

The Town of The Blue Mountains is the one place were there is still a lot of custom homes being constructed. This is because there is still vacant land to buy and build upon. There are also many very old ski chalets that are small and ill maintained that are being bought and torn down so that larger homes can be constructed. The Blue Mountains is were you will find most of the very large custom homes being constructed with no expense spared in their design and construction.

Because of the cost of land being extremely high in the town of the Blue Mountains and the fact that waterfront is at a premium renovations and additions are also very popular. A lot of the homes that are being bought up are still being used as second and third homes for people wanting to enjoy the area when they have the time and don't wish to make it their permanent home. This is fueling the renovation and additions that we see being built and planned as people are unwilling to spend so much money on a new custom home when it is only to be used on the weekends.

Both the custom home and renovation/addition market in the town of the Blue Mountains shows no signs of slowing down as it is suffering from both sides of people who want to move here to live and people that want to own something to stay while they play. This area also has the ability to grow as there is still more land available to build on that is untouched.


Meaford has seen a lot of changes and will have a lot more to come, the push from people wanting to live in the area has come to Meaford driving the cost of used homes up and also bringing the cost of vacant land up along with it.

There is a change in Meaford from an older population that is there to retire to younger people with families wanting to live and grow. This is bringing more custom homes being built along with renovations and additions.

The value of these projects is not what you usually see in Collingwood and the Town Of The Blue Mountains but there are a lot of them and more demand for it all the time.

Meaford could be on the cusp of a large building boom in the coming years.

Town Of Wasaga Beach

Wasaga Beach has been probably the fastest growing area for several years. The cost of housing in Wasaga Beach has always been less then in the surrounding areas but that has changed with the overall demand for people wanting to live in the area. As real estate has risen so has the demand for renovations and additions to existing homes.

Custom Homes have grown in value as property near the water can only be built upon now if you are removing an existing building. People with the means to do this usually have the means also to spend large amount of money on their new homes. High End custom homes are becoming more the norm near the water in Wasaga Beach.

The town of Wasaga Beach is very large and there are still places in the beach that can be had for less and these area's still see the normal amount of renovations and additions that are of normal value.

The demand to live in Wasaga Beach will probably not go down any times soon as you still have retirees that want to live there along with a lot of families (because of the amenities) and the tourists that still come for the beach in the summer wanting a place to stay on the weekends.

 Creemore (Clearview Township)

There is more custom homes and renovations going on in the Creemore/Clearview Township area then normal. That doesn't mean that there is a boom in the residential construction industry in the area. The amount of residential construction that actually happens in a township as large as this one is usually not a lot. Decades of suppressing development has driven the cost of used houses up and vacant land even higher. There are finally some sub-divisions being built that might alleviate the pressure but they are slow to come aboard.

With the amount of turnover in used homes there will continue to be a strong renovation industry with the custom homes being weaker.

In Conclusion

Overall there is plenty of work in new custom homes, additions and renovations. More additions and renovations in most of these area's then new homes just because of the lack of vacant land that you are able to buy and build on.

If you are planning to build, add on or renovate then I suggest that you start calling around now to find your contractor because the good contractors will be booked up early this year and possible even into next year with the way the demand is shaping up for used and new homes.

Rob Abbott
Village Builders Inc.