Oakville Homes

August 11, 2010

DOCUMENT EVERYTHING, RESEARCH FORUMS AND TAKE PICTURES

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I just got back from Las Vegas and had a beautiful time in the place that is an “Adult Disneyland – with sin”.  Weather was perfect and the cab drivers a wealth of knowledge.  No, I didn’t get any tips on how to break the bank, although for a $9 investment I made $24 playing Blackjack at the bar.  What I found out from the cab drivers was the 60% drop in house values some people have suffered.  Hard to imagine buying a house and losing 60%.  Even harder to lose that and have to put up with a builder who can’t put together a decent house.

One way we buy is to research the internet, newspapers and by word of mouth.  Our ability to do this research has grown immensely due to internet access.  Unfortunately, some of the bad builders use hard ball tactics to stop people from recording their negative experiences.  Kind of hard for some poor stiff using all their financial resources to buy a house to fight against a billionaire builder whose plethora of lawyers threaten to bury you in a lawsuit.  I’ve experienced this in the past.

Following some of the forums, I have noticed some forum visitors are complaining that forum administrators are deleting any negative statements concerning builders.  I guess the local builders threaten them with lawsuits and, as they are not making the statements, have to delete to stay alive.  Shame really, as these negative statements can help one determine if they wish to build and take a chance they won’t suffer any poor construction techniques.

One site at www.houselights.com records a persons experiences with a builder.  They have recorded their experiences with photographs and what has happened.  Not all good.  But, for someone looking at buying a home and also hiring a home inspector, it shows the types of problems you should be looking for.  You may be more or less picky than this person but it gives you an idea of what to look for.

One forum, at least, came out and gave the story of why they edit.  I haven’t given the name because I guess he has enough trouble with the builders.

“If Rick wants to allow stuff like that to happen he’s going to have to deal with the legalities surrounding it. That also includes just copying forum topic names

On XXXXXXXXX.ca, 2 users have asked to be removed due to legal issues surrounding their builders, and that’s just this week. Probably about 30 overall in the last 2 years. And that doesn’t include the dozen lawyer letters I personally have received regarding content that users have posted.

This forum is available to anyone with a web browser, including the legal teams of builders and their staff. The internet is not as anonymous as you think.

It may or may not matter to you, but there will be some changes to the site by the end of the year now that I am staffing up the other side of the business.”

A forum administrator would have a problem determining the truth.  So, if you wish to complain about a builder, at least show you have the proof (photographs) and this strengthens the argument that the posting should not be deleted.  You can’t sue the truth.  All my problems were documented, even the illegal activity and it is in the town files.  Make sure you document everything in writing and with photographs to ensure the lawyers can’t start a feeding frenzy on you.

It’s all about facts, truth and documents.  Even for Tarion.  And, a house inspector can help you with the documentation and his credentials can help in the argument, especially if you have to get your own lawyer involved.
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August 7, 2010

Mattamy raises more money for charity!!!!

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Mattamy Homes is not shy about promoting themselves, both as a home builder and as a donator to the “cause”.  Now, I can certainly show proof that they aren’t that great in home building but, I must admit, Mattamy Homes does donate a lot of money to politicians, charities and other worthwhile causes.

I just read the following in relation to the ” Tour de Bleu“, a copycat of the Tour de France bike ride but, this one is to raise money for the William Osler Cardiovascular Health System at Brampton Civic Hospital.  The Tour is expected to raise $750,000, which will be added to the already raised $1.5 million.

One of the well publicized endeavours of Mattamy.

“Since 1978, Mattamy has aspired to create an enjoyable home buying experience for homeowners with over 50,000 homes in more than 100 communities in Canada and across the U.S.

 According to the company, the Tour de Bleu is an example of Mattamy’s desire to give back to the communities where they build homes.

” It is also part of Peter Gilgan’s personal drive to benefit community health care close to home. 

Well, I am not too sure about the “enjoyable ” part, especially for myself and others who have suffered the less than publicized Mattamy Experience“.  Particularly those trusting souls in the Ottawa area.

Note that this is part of Gilgan’s “personal drive to benefit community health care close to home”.  Yes, his donation to Wellspring certainly helped the local community but, his using illegal (code) wiring in order to sell a house that put my children at risk I guess isn’t part of benefiting the community. 

Ex Mayor Ann Mulvale was more interested in accepting this donation than dealing with the illegal (code) wiring issue and, I don’t think either Mattamy or the inspector received any type of admonishment. The report on this was never seen.   But, Wellspring got the money.  So, I guess the way to keep unpopular building techniques out of the press is to ensure you keep donating the money and making yourself look good.  Kind of tactic the old mafia used as well and, of course, the drug lords in South America have perfected it.

Oh, and for the lawyers that just got a tingle in their missing gonads, I’m not accusing or even suggesting that  Mattamy or Gilgan are part of the Mafia or drug cartels.  Just interesting both use the same techniques – a social observation maybe worth looking into.

Well Peter, on behalf of those in Brampton, I thank you for organizing this event and raising a very impressive amount of money for the cause. 

 Too bad you didn’t put that effort into my house and the houses of those that don’t seem to get any benefit from their donation to your billionaire status. Fortunately my children are still alive to say thank you as well. 

 At least we can say that a small part of our money maybe helped those in need, including you.
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August 5, 2010

Utilities – why are they shallow????

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A few blogs ago, I brought up the issue that our utilities are not really buried in a manner that yells “Safety”.  As I mentioned, I found that my cable and telephone cables were only a few inches below the surface and went right under my garden, where one would expect one to be digging on a continual basis.

I have  just finished putting in a garden wall.  I paid someone to be the job boss and I was the slave labour.  He related some horror stories to me about just how our utilities are buried.  It was shocking to see the lack of concern in regards to our natural gas lines.  He mentioned that when someone puts a pool in, the location of the gas feed line to the heater may not be marked, something of a concern for later work by yourself or a new homeowner.

You would think that when building a new house, all utilities (except the gas) could be put into a conduit that was buried about 4 feet in the ground and thus was protected from fences, gardening and general yard work.  And the gas line buried that deep as well but separate.  But no, they put it so shallow, I think  dog would dig it up trying to bury a bone.

To show you just how bad it is, I put in a base and cap stone for my wall – 2 layers.  I had to dig around the tube holding my cable and telephone cable  and dig under it so that I could put it lower in the ground to accommodate my base stone.  Now, that is shallow.  One shove of the shovel and it would be cut.

I just don’t understand our building inspectors and our building code.  I think it is about time someone started to think that maybe we should bury our utilities so that they do not create a hazard or are subject to damage via normal yard work.  Or, maybe everytime we go to dig a hole for a flower we should call in the utility locators.  It is a free service and maybe after a while, they will start putting it deeper.  No, they will probably charge us and then fine us for not doing it. 

Why build for safety when you can fine people for digging in their yard.  By the way, I know it is $100 to repair a broken telephone line and I hear it is a $1000 for a gas line.  Watch where you dig.

Yes, we are all worried about the environment and charge 5 cents a bag to reduce plastic pollution but don’t even consider the danger and cost of not burying our utilities properly.

Or maybe we should have builders like Mattamy stake out the utility lines so that when we start landscaping the barren land they left us with, we can do so in safety.  You’d think, if anyone, they would be in the best position to know where everything is wouldn’t you. 
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August 4, 2010

Mattamy homes being flogged……….

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I just noticed something that seems odd to me.  We all know of the Mattamy openings, etc where people will line up overnight to be first in line to choose a house.  We get the impression that Mattamy homes sell immediately and, if you’re not there on opening day, your chances of getting a house are reduced.  I’ve seen them put up ads promoting an area well before the event and it seems everyone rushes off and gets one.

Well, according to this link, they have a supply of homes not sold and are offering them for sale – some for immediate occupancy and others for just down the road.  One bunch in Kanta - Fairwinds North and, the other in Barrhaven – Half Moon Bay

Now, we all know the problems they have had in the Ottawa area and, in the recent J.D. Powers and Associates customer satisfaction survey they bottomed out. Is this listing a result of people bailing out on Mattamy and their problems in the Ottawa area?  Just seems odd they have unsold stock with firm closing dates. 

Well, Mattamy firm and, we all know about their firm dates.  They’ll even do illegal (code) wiring to get under the wire in a closing.  Just ask me or Ann Mulvale.

I’d have a house inspector lined up for these beauties in the Ottawa area, considering the problems they have had and, a good real estate lawyer for closing. 

 Better safe than sorry.
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August 3, 2010

Mattamy – found out my home has a clone……

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For my Canadian readers, hope you had a great long weekend. For those in the U.S. and beyond, hope your weekend was enjoyable.

I helped my wife at a local craft show (paper toling) and, after the show, we delivered one of her pictures to a client. They actually live in the same model of Mattamy home as we do and it was nice to compare decorating, etc. Nice to see how different ideas can be displayed within the same footprint as your own home, especially with some walls being renovated into a different configuration.

We hit the grand room above the garage, a room that usually elicits positive comments. It was interesting to note they have the same problems though.

I think the problem is universal, no matter who the builder is – a room that is hotter in summer and colder in the winter than the rest of the house that is above a garage.

Now, when I bought our house, I knew this could be a problem and asked that the garage walls be insulated. Mattamy refused, even though I offered to pay for an upgrade. Now, by insulating, you would hope to keep the garage more moderate and therefore help to keep the room above more stable in heat/cold.

No, for some reason, builders have not recognized this as a problem nor taken the  time to figure out how to solve the problem.  In other words, freeze your b*lls off in the winter and don’t complain.  You’re lucky we got the rest of the house right type of attitude.

They have a lovely brick fireplace.  Ours is fieldstone.  Both have the heatilator vents in the stone/brick work. When I bought the house I noticed a very large breeze flowing through the vents.  After a long argument and using a wind gauge, I got Mattamy to fix it.  The fixer – an angry man who did not want to be there fixing it and, the job showed it.  The mortar was, of course, a different colour in the fix job and thus detracts from the appearance.   Our friends, who are second owners, have to tolerate the breeze and, stuff distracting foam plugs into the vents in the winter. 

 I wonder if Peter Gilgan had to do this in his $45 million Edgemere home.  Sorry, he dumped it for $35 million.  Can you imagine taking 1/4 off your asking price in order to get rid of your home.   Maybe the fireplace did leak air and he had to reduce.  :-)   I think I just felt a whole lot of speculators  shudder at the thought.

So, if you like a fireplace and have heatilators, make sure you test it.  Hopefully there is a breeze when your house inspector checks the place.  Funny how builders, Mattamy included, push for this environmental stuff by emphasising upgraded insulation, better insulated windows and then go ahead and put a system into your home that allows a tornado of cold air to flood a room that most people will use most of the time.  So much for eco-consciousness.

Not sure of how you can get your builder to fix the fireplace problem up front or, to insulate a room above a garage so that it is livable?  Obviously the building code doesn’t address it and, from my experience with the Town of Oakville, ex-Mayor Ann Mulvale, Mattamy Homes and the putting of illegal (code) wiring into my home, you won’t have much success from the local building department.

Just hire a building inspector to increase the odds of having a worry free home and put all into your Tarion  report.  You might get somewhere.
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July 30, 2010

Who loves ya Mattamy – Not Ottawa!!!!!

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Well, the J.D. Power and Associates Customer satisfaction surveys are coming in.  And no real surprises there.

According to Adrian Chung, senior manager at J.D. Power customer satisfaction regarding a defect free home has gone from a dismal 8% to 20% since last year.  So you can read from this that this year, 80% of those receiving a new home did not get one defect free. 

Now, no one should expect that a house will be defect free but, it would be interesting to see to what level of poor quality these 80% ended up with.  If anything, this shows you should hire a house inspector as the odds are great you will have a house with some level of problems.  I think Vegas gives you better odds on a bet.

In the GTA, Mattamy’s home stomping ground, they achieved 2nd place.  I think they know how to play the system here by ensuring surveyed homeowners get the good treatment.  In Ottawa, not surprising, they hit rock bottom again.

Here’s how one Ottawa couple felt:

“Only two years ago, Mattamy was the talk of the town, winning top honours as the builder with the best customer satisfaction, and capturing six of 13 top builder awards.

It was that record that attracted enthusiastic new buyers like Eddie Vlasblom and his wife Dyanne Wilson, who now have soured on the company.

Vlasblom and Wilson ordered a $500,000 “dream home” at Half Moon Bay in Barrhaven, but say many things went wrong. From a cracked basement floor to damaged hardwood floors, poor insulation, cracked windows and wrong kitchen fittings, it was one problem after another.

The worst, Vlasblom said, was that company staff treated him and his wife as a nuisance.

“This was our dream home and it turned into a nightmare. We found out that everyone has a horror story about this company,” said Vlasblom. “I am just fed up and I am fixing things myself.”

Why??

 
“Frank Cairo, president of Mattamy Ottawa, said the survey results reflect a company that essentially became a victim of its own success.”
 
I think they started to believe their own cutsey ads and forgot you actually have to build a decent home and put in a decent effort to ensure a customer at least has a home fit to live it.  Doing shortcuts at planning (sold houses before permitted), doing illegal changes to the environment and doing illegal wiring just doesn’t cut it.
 
also:
 
“We had so many sales that unfortunately it was very difficult to keep pace with the construction volumes on site with limited trade base in Ottawa,” he said.
 
In my neck of the woods that is called greed.  You know your limitations so why go out and sell too many to properly build - unless it is greed.  Other builders only build what they can justify with their resources.  Yeah, their president may not get to be a billionaire but, the homeowner probably gets a better built house.  Like those that bought Monarch and rewarded this company with first place in Ottawa.  They only got 3rd place in the GTA after 2nd place Mattamy but, the GTA is Mattamy’s home ground.
 
Seems that after they sold my house with illegal wiring and showed their greed, Mattamy didn’t change their spots – or should it be stripes, considering they were convicted of an environmental crime?
 
So, no matter who the builder is you only have a 20% chance of getting a home without defects. 
 
HIRE A HOUSE INSPECTOR TO INCREASE YOUR ODDS OF GETTING IT FIXED UP FRONT AND NOT 20 YEARS DOWN THE ROAD.
 

 

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July 27, 2010

Mattamy offers cheap way to get indoor pool.

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Basement leaks - enough to make a grown man cry, especially if you’ve finished the basement.  That is one reason you wait before you finish your basement in a new house.  Also, the environment in a new construction can be a little damp while the basement drys out.  I know one couple who had the builder finish the basement.  The builder did a nice job but, they had moisture problems for quite some time and required a dehumidifier running 24/7 to keep the old mold from forming.

Now, a visit to a forum showed another concern.  New construction and the wall in a Mattamy home is leaking.

Take a close look at this picture.  Not only is there a long crack but the leak seems to be coming from the tie rod location.  I had the same problem.  Appears that the foundation guys just cut the tie rods and slap a bit of concrete on each end and hope for the best. 

Do these guys not understand “WATER PRESSURE”? 

 Over time, water will work its way through the outside concrete, along the piece of tie rod and then pop the concrete on the other side.  Voila – instant leak. 

My back wall leaked for awhile – hidden by insulation.  I thought it was condensation.  When I cut the insulation to let it dry, I noticed it was localized to this one spot, similar to that in the photo.

I brought in “Omni Basement Systems” and, they took off the old concrete patches and filled the holes with a substance that quickly stopped the leaks.  Much better than the Mattamy foundation guys.

So, if you are under warranty, make sure Mattamy fixes it properly and note - just spreading some concrete is a waste of time.  Yes, a temporary repair to get Mattamy off the hook but, eventually you will have to repair it.  Probably just after you finished the basement.  Also, make sure you note all these leaks on your 30 day and 1 year inspections to ensure there is a record.

If Mattamy or any other builder can stall until after the warranty period and there is no record, you are on the hook for repairs.  And if your basement is finished, these repairs will be costly.

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July 25, 2010

Whose pocket is your politician in?

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Yes, I know.  It’s too early to really be thinking of elections.  Who wants to ruin the relaxing times of our summer thinking of elections coming up in the cold of November.  Well, now is the time to be looking at your incumbents and how they have been voting.  Are they pro community, business, development, select groups or, those who give them the free press through donations?

Just how have our incumbents used their power to further the community they serve, the business/developers they mingle with or, those select groups they favour?  And don’t just check the incumbents.  Look at who is going to run.  Are they former mayors or councillors who got voted out of the feeding trough and want back in to help out their buddies or, are they former politicians that want another kick at the cat to make positive change?  Make sure you look at their previous record as a politician rarely changes their spots, so to speak.  In some cases, stripes.

For those spending their time awaiting their new home or, out there pounding the pavement in search of a new home, what the politicians do will affect how you will enjoy your home.

In my case, former mayor of Oakville, Ann Mulvale did nothing about the Mattamy issue I brought forward.  Mattamy was a donator of money to her Wellspring cause.  Her actions affected how I enjoyed my new home.

Do you want a politician that allows the destruction of wetlands for the monetary gain by developers?  You may consider yourself eco-aware but, in pushing for that new home, do you mind the environmental damage that was done to allow you to move into that nice area?  How many people knew that Mattamy did environmental damage in Ottawa but pushed for their homes in Kanata Fairwinds

Who you vote for will shape your future community.  How it is formed, shaped, designed and built is a direct result of how politicians look after their community responsibilities.  Will a donation to their project give the developers the edge in what they want or, will they make sure policies are developed and enforced that ensure a properly built community?  No matter how you design it, developers want profit and their designs relate this philosophy.  Politicians are forced to allow growth but, they can shape that growth to the betterment of all who will live there.  Peter Gilgan did not become a billionaire by looking after other people – he ensured his policies achieved maximum profit or, any expenditures got free press etc.  How often you do see donations given press releases but you see little press about the problems? 

Why is that? 

Newspapers rely on advertising and advertising is king.  I’ve been there – free press and journalism only works if the subject isn’t paying the freight in advertising.  The Ottawa environmental charges broke first in this blog, long before it hit the mainstream, Mattamy supported via advertising press.

Come November, make sure you vote for someone who will work for you.  Ask the right questions and inquire about their record.  Mulvale supports big business Ford and their selling of prime land adjacent to residential land for a power generator.  Hmmmmm.  Mulvale supported Mattamy in its quest to build and not always to code - at least in my case.    

Whose pocket is your politician in?  You voted for them – it should be the voters pocket.
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July 23, 2010

Do you press release your donations? Mattamy does.

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When do charity donations become free PR and a means to get something from public officials?

I just read the following:

“Mattamy Homes U.S. Group in Jacksonville recently donated office furnishings and equipment valued at more than $2,500 to Allen D. Nease High School in St. Johns County.”

We’ve all know those rich philanthropists who donate millions to charity and do it anonymously.

Mattamy donates $2500 in used equipment and does a press release in the Florida Times Union Jacksonville.com site.

Wants to make sure the locals are aware of what they are doing.  Now, I’m glad the furniture is going to a good use but, at what cost.  I think when Mattamy goes about investing in the community, they mean something different from the rest of us.

I know in my case, ex-Oakville Mayor Ann Mulvale received donations to her well deserved Wellspring project at about the same time my complaint regarding how Mattamy orchestrated a sale by doing illegal (code) wiring on my furnace, thus putting my children at risk.

Funny how the report ordered never got past her desk.  I certainly never read it.  But we do know the donation went through and it certainly got publicized.  The illegal wiring never did.  I guess donations mean more than making sure people follow the code.

New Mattamy motto“Code – we don’t need no stinking code!!!” 

We saw that with the lack of environmental concern in Milton when they built prematurely on human waste fertilized land; did some illegal environmental earth management in Ottawa; and, had leaky basements in Bracebridge.  I don’t think the code covers selling houses without a building permit issued but, I think we could view that as an ethical issue.

But then, the papers are filled with Gilgan and his donations.

What’s is in your wallet Peter??

REMEMBER: THE NOVEMBER ELECTIONS ARE JUST AROUND THE CORNER – WHO DOES YOUR POLITICIAN SUPPORT?????

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July 18, 2010

Cash or pay the taxes on a reno – does paying taxes mean better quality?

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In the Saturday Toronto Star Stephen Dupuis, president and CEO of the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) wrote an article titled: “Underground economy in renovation sector costs us all”.  He gave an interesting argument about hiring contractors who will work for cash and give the buyers a break on the taxes.  To him, he wonders that if a contractor is willing to cut corners when it comes to paying taxes, what other short cuts is he taking in terms of your renovation.

A valid point and that is why word of mouth is so important when hiring someone who accepts cash.

Also interesting was the statement by Mikle Baldinelli, president of the London Home Builders’ Association.  “Without a contract, they can trash your house and you can’t do anything about it!”.

Well, I know I paid no cash for my Mattamy home – just ask the bank and, I know the taxes were paid on that construction but, I can tell you – I got the type of construction Baldinelli and Dupuis is warning us about.  The only difference was that I paid the taxes and still got shafted.

As you know, Mattamy did shortcuts on my home and the homes of others and we are living the problem.  In my case, most of which I can’t tell you due to a gag order, they did illegal (code) wiring that put my children in danger.  I went so far as the Town of Oakville council and Mayor at the time (Ann Mulvale) and nothing was done.

So, just because a contractor or builder makes you pay the taxes, it does not give you protection against short cuts and other problems in the construction.  And Tarion…… The wiring problem was fixed but at the time, my children were put at risk and no one really jumped at fixing the problem.  Including the Town of Oakville inspector who passed the furnace with the illegal wiring.

So, Baldinelli and Dupuis are only putting up an argument because legitimate contractors who collect the taxes feel they are getting shafted by those who undercut the bids and the jobs.  They may have an argument but just because they collect the taxes doesn’t mean you won’t have problems. 

 Just ask a few Mattamy owners.
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