Oakville Homes

June 28, 2010

Mattamy Homes – some of their traits are well known – hire a house inspector to find them


Well, for those of us in the GTA (Greater Toronto, Ontario area), we’ve just gone through a weekend of mayhem with the G20 and for others, they may have gone through a weekend of house buying.  Both had their ups and downs but, unlike the world leaders at the G20 who had 14, 000 police officers to look after them, you as a homebuyer had few options.

Bob Aaron, a lawyer and columnist for the Toronto Star and a member of the Tarion board, wrote an article regarding a couple who bought a house and ended up with “more than $85,000” in repair costs to bring it up to code. 

What, no prior house inspection? 

 No, they depended on a “Sellers Property Information Statement”(SPIS), which the court deemed adequate and, because they were caught up in a “hot real estate market”, they took the deal – foregoing a house inspection, as recommended by their agent.  Ah yes, you want the house no matter what.  A real sellers dream.

Now, you say – this is a resale and not a Mattamy and since it was an old house, they are right to lose by not having an inspection.  What about a 6-year-old house?  Is that old enough for an inspection?

On my house I showed that Mattamy did not follow code in terms of electrical work and thus put my children at risk.  Something the house inspector would find.  He would have noticed a few more things as well.  You see, doesn’t matter if it is an old house or a new house – depending on who is selling it, you might very well have problems.  Problems you will be stuck with.  My gag order prohibits me from telling you mine but, here are a few Mattamy specials.

Here is one person who is suffering from a wet basement in a 6-year-old house.  He had an inspector attend and the following was discussed:

“As with the purchase, one of the conditions was a Home Inspection, and many of the local guys were good enough to answer my questions and try their best to accomedate my short notice. All I can say is being that this is my 3rd home purchase it is nothing short of the best few hundred spent. Yes they were certified, registered etc… and he managed to find the usual Mattamy traits, sagging windows, improper shingle flashing, missing drain spouts or too short. Poor adhesion of, and cracking caulking or missing caulking on windows (wow even my previous other 20year old home had better caulking), and roof nailing points etc etc..yet he was impressed at how solid the home was for a 6 yr old.”

Sagging windows and too short downspouts – sounds familiar to me.  But, you notice the inspector stated, “usual Mattamy traits”.

And: “Unfortunately Mattamy Homes, specifically in Milton, has been negligent regarding grading between homes because they do not often provide a proper swale to direct water away from the sides of the home. Mattamy Homes in Cambridge and Brampton, and most other builders do a far better job with grading between homes than Mattamy in Milton.

Well, I can talk about the grading at my house.  Mattamy had my two next door neighbours at a higher elevation and my backyard was graded towards my house.  Now, I’m no engineer but have taken hydrology and to my understanding, water will seek a lower level and flow downhill.  Tell me if I’m wrong Mattamy

Anyways, I was able to have a decent talk with the grader and he agreed with the fact that the Mattamy specs just weren’t up to snuff and he at least graded my yard towards the swale and gave me a couple of more inches of soil to ensure I didn’t end up with a swamp during rainstorms.  As you know, based on the electrical problem, etc, I certainly was not going to depend on the Town of Oakville building inspector.  For more on grading, see the blurb at the end done by Andy Shaw, a house inspector.

So, as I mentioned, you don’t have the same assistance the G20 people did so make good use of the help you can get.  A good real estate lawyer and a professional house inspector.  Both will reduce the negative impact of home ownership.  Also troll the internet for useful stuff to understand the problems people face and what some of the solutions are.  Make sure you double-check the solutions and get professional advice on them as we all know – home remedies aren’t necessarily the best in the long run.  I sometimes think Mattamy uses home remedies based on the fact they can’t seem to fix things right. 

 I know from my own experience and from reading points like the following:

“I have several pictures of mold behind the vapor barrier in my 2-year-old home. When I pointed it out to Mattamy, they said they would fix the issues with the vapor barrier. They have tried to paint my pillars out front 3 times and botched it up all 3 times…. No way would I let them anywhere near this issue. I researched the problem and fixed it properly. “


So, on a used house don’t just depend on the SPIS and, on a new house, please don’t depend on the builder to really be up front with you.  The experience I and others have had with Mattamy only proves the point. 

Grading article:

Lot grading not done yet ?? Then read this.

by Andy Shaw – March 9th 2010.

Proper lot grading is vital for the long term health of your home. Often, during year end warranty inspections I find lot grading issues that are difficult to repair. Plus, builders often dump gravel between homes before the grading ( swale ) is done properly. These problems contribute to chronic moisture conditions caused by water leakage and dampness through the basement foundation walls. This can also contribute to sump pump failures, sewer backups, ponding on your lot, and foundation settlement issues.

The basics are simple. The lot grade must always slope away from your home without negatively effecting the adjacent home. In between homes, there must be a V-shaped “swale” that directs water away from both homes to the front or to the rear of the home. This V-shaped “swale” must be well defined before the gravel is placed between the homes.

As well, the Ontario Building Code requires that your foundation must extend not less than 150 mm or 5 7/8 inches above finished ground level. This keeps siding, bricks, stucco and other similar materials above grade.

Often during inspections the slope of the lot grading is towards the house, yet only a few inches of foundation is visible above grade. This creates a huge problem because the simple fix, adding soil near the house and sloping the lot away from the house, is now not possible. In cases like this the whole yard should be re-graded to fix the problem.

All I can say is this –

1) Don’t allow your builder to dump gravel between your homes unless there is a well defined V-shaped swale directing water away from both homes towards the front or rear of the lot.

2) Don’t allow your builder to lay sod down unless you can see that the lot is graded in a way that will direct water away from your home without negatively effecting other homes.

3) Don’t allow your builder to grade too high up on your foundation wall. You must be able to visually see a minimum 5 3/4 inches of your foundation walls.

4) Before your builder installs the window wells, confirm that the weeping tile ( a black pipe full of gravel ) is exposed and under each basement window.

5) Don’t have your A/C systems installed until after the lot grading has been done. This will interfere with the people doing the lot grading and create a low area under and around the A/C unit.

Andy Shaw – 905 876 4761
Halton Home Inspection Service

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1 Comment »

  1. Great website and great information. You are very knowledgeable about this topic and i can’t wait until we come back and visit your website again!

    Comment by jason — July 14, 2010 @ 9:49 pm | Reply

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