Oakville Homes

April 29, 2012

Mattamy or Fernbrook – quality not guaranteed. Have a professional check for you.


In the Saturday, April 28th, 2012 Toronto Star there is an article by Ellen Roseman titled: “Buyers find no protection in home warranty”.    There are some very important points in this article.  I copy the article at the end of the blog in case the link disappears.

The article centres around a Fernbrook Homes development in Oakville.  (Note Peter – not Mattamy) where there is evidence that the builder installed heating installations are not sufficient for the homes.

In 2009 Tarion had 12 homes fixed under warranty as they followed the timelines. 

38 homes were not fixed as the owners did not complain within the 2 year warranty period.  The fix cost one person $15,000.  On the resales – there is a lawsuit in progress.

If anything, one should get from this article the fact that you MUST FOLLOW THE TIMELINE GUIDELINES.  If buying a resale from a speculator or someone who really doesn’t care about these things, as a new owner, you may be stuck with the resulting bills down the line.  One reason to hire a PROFESSIONAL house inspector, check the forums and ask around re problems.  Also, real estate and former owners are subject to law suits if there is some question on whether or not they knew.  Obviously, those in this sub-division are well aware and should disclose to buyers.  Some view the rapid rise in real estate as easy money and can’t be bothered ensuring their property is actually up to snuff and worth it.  A high price doesn’t mean good quality.

Whether or not a house inspector would catch this problem even on a new house, is open to conjecture.  But, if an original buyer had the right to hire a house inspector to monitor the construction, the original error in the heating system might have been pointed out in time to have it fixed before the walls went up.  Some house inspectors do offer this service but a builder might refuse them access.  Based on Mattamy’s treatment of some house inspectors and their quality issues, not sure if you could get them to agree.  I can’t comment on other builders due to a lack of fact and experience regarding them.

Just remember – new houses can be money pits just like the older resales.  More so as you expect good quality, unlike a resale which one expects to do some upgrades, maintenance, etc.

I know – I bought a Mattamy on trust and had to do my own work.

Note:  In fairness to the builders, sometimes even they are bamboozled by manufacturers who promise the moon and deliver hell.  That is why every system needs some checkpoint.  Your checkpoint is a PROFESSIONAL HOUSE INSPECTOR.  Don’t depend on those who really only want money from you and don’t represent you.  Mattamy would not let me know who the trades where that screwed up my house.  This denied me recourse against them and, opens me up to further abuse when I need work done.  Fortunately I found out who did our windows.  My new windows are now professionally installed and will last a lot longer than the sh*t Mattamy put in.  Yes Peter, they were sh*t and I’m sure you don’t have them in your new house.

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New home buyers out in the cold when complaining about heating systems: Roseman

Jeremy Leiskau bought a two-year-old townhouse in 2002, paying $365,000. A home inspection didn’t reveal any problems.

But after moving in, he found the heating and cooling system didn’t work properly. He was always too cold in winter and too hot in summer, no matter where he set the thermostat.

Only in spring did his townhouse reach the right temperature for him to sleep comfortably. Only in spring did he not wake up when the noisy motor turned on in the middle of the night.

Neighbours in the Oakville development built by Fernbrook Homes in 2000 to 2001 had similar problems. Some managed to get repairs or replacements after filing claims with Tarion Warranty Corp.

Leiskau tried to get repairs as well. But since he wasn’t the original owner, he’d missed the two-year window for heating system repairs under Ontario’s new home warranties plan act.

“I wear layers and keep the gas fireplace on in the living room,” he says. “But it’s embarrassing and awkward for entertaining, since the guests are always cold. I can’t sell. I feel trapped.”

The Oakville homes have a high-velocity system that picks up heat from a hot water tank or boiler and sends air around the home through tiny ducts (just five centimetres in diameter).

“The equipment does not produce the heat or air flow that is advertised by the manufacturer. In addition, the ductwork is too small,” says Dara Bowser, a professional building technologist who examined the homes.

In 2009, Tarion received a report that showed the high-velocity system was undersized. It fixed 12 of the Oakville homes, but left 38 others alone because the owners hadn’t complained within the two-year time period.

Ralph Morgan, an original owner who missed the deadline, paid $15,000 to install a new air handler with separate boiler and change the air conditioning system’s internal coil.

“Our new system works much better, but is still somewhat constrained because of the two-inch tubing installed by the builder,” he says.

“When Tarion fixed the 12 houses, it used three-inch tubing to provide better air flow and reduce the noise of the original system, a common complaint on our street.”

Rosemary Farnsworth, who bought into the same development in 2005, found the air conditioning was inefficient and didn’t cool the second floor.

“Countless letters, meetings and petitions got all of the residents of our subdivision nowhere,” she says. “Many of us just bit the bullet and paid for a better system out of our own pocket.

“The problem could have been rectified with a minimum of fuss at the beginning, but was allowed to mushroom into an expensive and angry mess. It’s a disgrace.”

In her view, no one was accountable. The builder blamed the manufacturer. The manufacturer blamed the installer. The province blamed the municipality. And the municipality said the file was closed on the homes.

Homeowners in the Oakville development don’t want to draw attention to their plight. They fear the resale value could be jeopardized.

One man, who bought a townhouse there two years ago, is suing both the real estate agent and the former owner in small claims court. He alleges they breached their duty under the law to disclose known defects.

After I interviewed him, he called back to say I couldn’t use his name because his neighbours would be upset. They insisted he talk to the media anonymously and not specify the exact location in Oakville.

What can buyers do to avoid such problems? Leiskau says he should have done more homework before buying his first home.

“Check the builder,” he says. “Read the customer satisfaction ratings published by J.D. Power every year. Ask the neighbours if they’re happy with the development.”

Finally, don’t assume the new home warranty will protect you from defects that show up only after the first few years. If you miss the strict time limits, you may be on the hook for repairs.

Ellen Roseman writes about personal finance and consumer issues. You can reach her at eroseman@thestar.ca or  www.ellenroseman.com


1 Comment »

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    Comment by kindlyyours.blogspot.ru — October 2, 2013 @ 10:09 am | Reply

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