Friday, July 30, 2010

Finally, some progress

Well, arranging the financing is still plodding along at a snails pace (I'll provide more details about that once everything is finalized), but we have made some progress with the builder.

We do not want to enter into a contract with the builder until we have the financing in place, however, summer is marching on and we were worried about getting the house started on time. In about another month or two it will start to get more expensive to build, primarily because after November 7, a 7% winter handling premium is applied to the cost of concrete and any masonry work has to be heated to ensure the mortar cures properly.

So, we met with the builder today and agreed to start some of the necessary soil engineering studies. These studies take about two weeks to complete and cost about $2500, but are required before a building permit application can be filed. If the financing falls through (which I don't think it will) then we're out $2500, but on the other hand, we could be two weeks ahead when the financing does come through.

A word about windows

When I come across a pretty decent contractor or supplier, I like to talk about them.

When we were still researching the old design of the house, we did a fair bit of research into windows (given that we were looking at about a $45,000 bill for windows).

We checked with a couple of different window suppliers in Ottawa, but one person who really stood out for me was Paul LeDuc at Golden Windows in Kanata. He spent a fair bit of time with us and did a really great job of explaining the differences in window styles and materials. Plus, he was transparent and pragmatic about costs and quality. He knew we were trying to keep costs down, so he offered some good solutions, such as using more expensive windows in the main living spaces and using cheaper windows in the bedrooms. All in all, I found him quite helpful, even though we did not end up using Golden, because we decided to go with Uniform Construction.

In case your interested, here are some tidbits of information about the windows we investigated:
  • Aluminum clad wooden frame windows are the most expensive, but also offer the widest range of colours on the outside and have a beautiful wood finish on the inside.
  • Coloured vinyl windows are about 20% cheaper than wooden windows, but only come in about 4 colours on the outside and only in white on the inside.
  • Plain white vinyl windows are about 30% cheaper than wooden windows and are white on both the inside and outside.
  • from an energy efficiency standpoint, there is virtually no difference in the efficiency of wood or vinyl windows
  • Marvin Windows also makes a window from a product called Ultrex, which is a fiberglass based product. The exterior of the window frame is made of Ultrex and the interior is made of wood. It costs about the same as coloured vinyl windows, and has a beautiful wood finish on the inside, but is limited to about 4 or 5 colours on the outside. Ultrex also has the advantage of being thermally stable, so the window frame does not expand and shrink as the temperature goes up and down.
  • Wood doors look great but are twice the price of steel or fiberglass doors, primarily because the locking mechanism is more complicated (wood doors typically lock at three points to prevent door from warping, whereas steel and fiberglass door locks are simpler, locking at one point).
  • Fiberglass doors now come in a range of faux wood finishes, some of which are remarkably realistic. Fiberglass doors also do not dent like steel doors can, but steel doors are stronger.