Oakville Homes

December 7, 2013

Oakville likes clean air but pooh poohs House Inspector bylaw.

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According to an article in the Hamilton Spectator, Hamilton wants to emulate an Oakville bylaw that “has reduced fine particulate matter emissions by 37 per cent since town council passed the bylaw in 2010.”  “Under the bylaw, if prospective businesses don’t measure up, council can block them from town” or, levy a fine.  Powerful stuff designed to increased the livability of the Town of Oakville.  One would find it hard to argue against such a bylaw, although federal and provincial laws usually cover this type of environmental concern.  Hamilton, a city which has traditionally attracted large industries, does have some concerns but, the Oakville bylaw has not been challenged.

So, it seems that Oakville council had the guts to put forward a bylaw designed to protect its citizens, even though federal and provincial legislation is actually in control of these matters.

Hmmmm.  But, they quake in fear of passing a bylaw that would enhance their ability to enforce their mandated responsibility to enforce the Building Code.  Why is this?

It was suggested to them in council and in writing that they pass a bylaw that would allow potential house buyers of NEW CONSTRUCTION to hire a house inspector to represent them in the construction phase of their new home and monitor the build to ensure all aspects of the construction would be built to code and their own specifications as outlined in the agreement to purchase.  Exactly the same privileges that commercial construction enjoys, including any construction by the Town of Oakville.

It would only cost the home buyer the cost of the House Inspector.  Much like putting in an upgrade.  It would not be mandatory on the part of the home buyer but totally voluntary and a RIGHT.  Town of Oakville council felt it could not pass this bylaw for some unstated reason but passed the buck to the province.  I see, the Town of Oakville council feels it can add a bylaw to the already in force legislation by the federal government and provincial government concerning air quality and force industries to follow their own guidelines but not put in a bylaw to protect homebuyers under the building code (which they are mandated to enforce).

Weird.

This clean air Oakville bylaw could cost jobs if industries feel the bylaw is too restrictive.  The bylaw could increase the cost of goods to consumers if the industry has to put more money into their premises (and pass said costs to consumers).  The proposed House Inspector bylaw would not cost the home buyer anything unless they chose to hire a house inspector.  Now, some politicians say that the bylaw would force builders to increase their costs to accommodate this added RIGHT to a home buyer.  Why?  Are they not already building to minimum building code and are they not already building quality products?  Why would a professional builder fear a house inspector, unless they are doing shortcuts to maximize profit while minimizing quality?  Why would a builder like Mattamy force house inspectors to sign restricting forms that limit their ability to inform the home buyer of any issues?

And, why would the Town of Oakville fear having House Inspectors enhance the enforcement of the Building Code?  Do they fear their own building inspectors aren’t doing quality inspections?  Well, in my case they allowed illegal wiring but maybe that was just a one of.

Maybe local politicians get donations from builders/developers but not big business?  Was that a problem?  Well, in the last municipal election, many politicians made it a point to note that they did not receive donations from builders or developers.  Some said they didn’t get help, which they did in the past.  Some were photographed with developers/builders at their functions, but did not receive a donation.

Politicians and Developers Wor$ together.

 
Politicians and Developers Wor$ together.

Now, this bylaw could be passed in a number of jurisdictions as I am sure there are many home buyers who need protection from some builders.  In Alberta, there was an issue where homes were not finished on the outside but finishing work started on the inside, contrary to best construction practice.  Sorry Mattamy, but it’s another one of your less than stirling examples of quality workmanship.

Mattamy Lawyer note:  Send me a picture of some other builder not following best practice and I’ll put it in for you.  I’m not restrictive on my examples, just short of examples of other builders.

Airdrie unfinished houses

Airdrie unfinished houses

If you have been a reader of this blog, I think you would agree that there needs to be more protection for the home buyer of new homes than what is in place now.  We can’t always depend on the builder, we can’t always depend on the building inspector and, based on complaints, builder dominated Tarion isn’t always in your corner.  Now, I have had contact with the Oakville building department and, up until now, have not received any information on what strategies they have to ensure that new construction north of Dundas Street will be up to standard.  They only quote the Building Code, which says they will do something if the builder tells them something.  What about complaints?  Do they act upon them? As you know, you have few resources available to you and usually it ends up just you and a lawyer to deal with stuff.  It would be nice to have a house inspector help you but they are reluctant to get involved until at least your first inspection, after you take custody.  On some issues, that is a little late or, if the builder does do a remedy, you house is a total wreck for a while.  Isn’t it better to catch things before the finishing touches are done?  I’d think so, but Oakville Town Council would rather you breathe clean air from a factory than help you breathe clean air in your house (you know, mould etc due to hidden issues behind the walls). Most builders discourage you from inspecting your house during construction.  If they allow you, excellent and I’d suggest working with your builder to remediate any issues prior to closing.  They might be a honourable builder who respects his clients and wants a quality job done.  In my case – lot left to be desired. Some people visit their homes in progress but can expect the boot if caught.  If you risk it, I’d suggest you take safety equipment with you (vest, hard hat etc) to make sure they don’t get you under the safety laws.  Building Inspector would probably do you while letting the builder put in illegal wiring, leaving holes in the foundation, etc.  So, SAFETY FIRST. If you have the kind of builder who puts you off, make sure you document everything – even document with photos if you have a good builder, just in case.  But, a bad builder, do the paperwork and photograph everything.  I’d let your lawyer know about this as well. You could also draw any building code issues to the attention of the local building department for follow-up and make sure you document.  If in Ontario, all this documentation only strengthens your case with Tarion. Now, based on my experience with the Town of Oakville, I suggest the following if you live in this area (suggest as well for areas with similar issues). If you monitor your construction, document everything in writing and take lots of photos.  Why would anyone care if they are building properly, right?  Then, send information to the building department director via registered mail.  Do not delay as bad work can be quickly covered up and a building inspector might not bother to really check.  In my case they didn’t notice a lack of insulation in the bay window. I would also send a letter with the information to the mayor.  This brings in accountability for the Building Department to the elected representative you have in place. Also, DEMAND that an OCCUPANCY PERMIT be issued and given to your lawyer before you close.  In my case, there was no occupancy permit and, I understand that one would not have been given based on the condition of my house.  My lawyer and I screwed up and the politicians (Mattamy / Peter Gilgan gives large in terms of donations) and builder clammed up to protect their asses.  That’s one reason there is no House Inspector bylaw in Oakville.  The lawyers circled the wagons to protect themselves.  Mattamy probably saved over a $100k by the Town of Oakville allowing the sale to go through by giving a permit on the illegally wired furnace.  So, by not documenting and getting people involved early, it can cost you big time. I have put the mailing information at the end of this blog for your convenience. Remember: This is probably the largest investment in your life.  Why have it spoiled by people not doing what you paid for.  It’s your money.  If you don’t care, just remember that when you sell it, you are responsible to the next buyer who might hire a house inspector and since it is a resale, is perfectly right to do so.  I’ve had to fix a lot of Mattamy mistakes to ensure my house can be sold issue free and that was out of my pocket.  If you are buying a flipped house, ensure all issues were dealt with and no issues are outstanding.  A professional house inspector can help you there. Mr. John TutertDirector of Building ServicesChief Building OfficialCorporation of the Town of Oakville1225 Trafalgar RoadOakville, OntarioL6H 0H3 Mr. Rob BurtonMayorCorporation of the Town of Oakville1225 Trafalgar Road

Oakville, Ontario
L6H 0H3
Note: In all fairness to the present Mayor, the issues described occurred during the term of the previous mayor.  I’m not allowed to bring this matter forward to the present council.

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November 25, 2012

Would you use Mattamy’s lawyer to save you money up front? Maybe lose big on the back end?

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If you were going to sue your lawyer, would you ask him/her to recommend a lawyer to you?  I doubt it but, it seems people use that type of thinking in setting up systems to protect themselves.  In a recent article by Bob Aaron of the Toronto Star, he tells a tale of someone buying a home.  They had asked for a house inspection and took the recommendation of the selling real estate agent on who to hire.  Their main concern was mould.  Needless to say, the house inspector did not find mould and it seems the real estate agent didn’t go over the house inspection report.  Even the buyer didn’t read the report.  The original court ruling was a split of the damages paid between the real estate agent, the house inspector and the buyer.  An appeal found the house inspector totally negligent and he had to pay.

A number of mistakes were made, including the glaring failure of the buyer not to read the report.  But, they should never have hired a house inspector that was recommended by the selling real estate agent.  The house inspector would want repeat business from the real estate agent so, his reporting credibility would be suspect to any normal person.

Hire a professional and accredited house inspector with good references.  References can also be found on local forums and blogs.  Just takes a few minutes of research.  A house inspector may not find everything, unless you hire one like Mike Holmes who gets to take apart homes to really check them out.  But, the more professional they are, the more likely they can recognize the signs of problems.

I don’t understand why people do things which do not protect themselves.  I should though, considering I let Mattamy do me in.

Here is a quote from Mattamy concerning lawyers from their Alberta operation.  Not sure if the new “Preserve” offers this suspected benefit?  I don’t think the Ontario Bar Association allows this potential flim-flam type of legal mumbo jumbo.

Q Do I need to obtain legal services?
A Mattamy recommends that you have the Agreement of Purchase and Sale reviewed within 5 days, prior to being binding, by a lawyer on your behalf. If you choose to use Mattamy’s solicitor for your closing, Mattamy will cover the legal closing costs once all conditions have been waived or satisfied. Any legal disbursements will be your responsibility.

Now, who would use the builder’s lawyer to assist you in closing the deal?  Where is the independent review of the closing in this matter?  Where is your protection?  Ask anyone who has had dealings with a builder – there are clauses in the contract that need to be adjusted or, you will be on the hook for a lot of money.  Those who closed in Milton with Mattamy had their lawyers review the purchase agreements and CHANGES HAD TO BE MADE.  Some lawyers didn’t follow through and I understand some people got stuck.

It is kind of like using the same lawyer for a divorce.  Who does that, except for those who are doing a mutually agreeable divorce.  Buying a house can lead to disagreements and you don’t want to have the builder’s lawyer tell you nothing can be done due to clauses in the contract – clauses he advised you to accept.

Be independent in the whole process. Hire those who will protect YOU.  Unless of course, you want to end up like I did.  Having my children put at risk due to Mattamy’s indifference to safety rules.  Mr. Gilgan wasn’t overly concerned that the then mayor of Oakville would do something.  But then, he did donate money to Wellspring.

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June 17, 2011

Going house hunting this weekend – watch who you buy from.

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The weekend is upon us and some of you may have the itch to go house hunting.  If you’re just going to be window shopping and you know you are just looking for ideas, you really don’t have to prepare for that, except to lay out a plan of attack on which places to go to.  For those in a more serious mode, I hope you have done your homework in regards to a house inspector, a good real estate lawyer and you know your rights (limited though they be) under Tarion (link on the side).  Just in case, on the spur of the moment, you jump into a deal with a builder on what you are sure is your dream house.

If you’ve read through my blog, you will note that your dream house can in fact be a horror house.

All the builders promise the world and, some actually come through.  Others, well, not always, sometimes spotty and, some downright never.

Go to the Mattamy website out in Alberta and you’d think they were offering paradise.  “To our way of thinking, it’s not about houses, it’s about people.”  I guess myself, wife and children didn’t qualify as “people”.

Here is a Tweet I saw that kind of reflects what you might experience from Mattamy – the one who says it is all about people.  And, I thought I had it bad.

Take care and enjoy the weekend.

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* The above is intended to show the reader examples of how to obtain a house inspector, no matter which builder you buy from. Remember, awards and advertising are designed to make you buy, not ensure you quality. We’ve shown that awards are not the standard on which to base your decision on. My use of my experiences are not made to embarass Mattamy Homes or Peter Gilgan but, are used because they are based on fact and show the larger picture that a house inspector is a requirment when buying a house, new or old from any builder. My experience only shows that in fact it can happen and is a fact of life. Your experiences with Mattamy may have differed but do not preclude what happened to me from happening again. Beware.

December 1, 2010

Even the Trades find Mattamy not so good!!!!!!

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A house is put together by a team, working together to produce the best product they can for a customer expecting a certain level of quality in the process.  Without co-operation at all levels, it becomes very difficult to actually achieve this.  A new homebuyer puts down the stated amount, makes decisions on upgrades and other factors and when they move in, they should be able to enjoy the new home with minimal interference. 

Based on what you have read in this blog, you know this isn’t always the case and why I recommend a house inspector be hired to protect your interest.

Why this doesn’t happen is the result of a number of issues.  An ethical builder, who not only treats their customer right but also a builder who treats his sub-contractors in an ethical and honest manner should be able to produce a high quality house.  Unfortunately, sub-contractors who are treated less than honestly have two decisions to make –   do short-cuts to ensure their survival or, go bankrupt.  We’ve seen the results of short cuts.

If you go to this link, you will read a comment from a sub-contractor with a viewpoint on Mattamy’s treatment of those responsible for ensuring your new home is built to a high standard.  It is comment # 8.

I won’t comment on it all but I am disturbed by the comment:

 “I even had the displeasure of sitting down with the VP of construction and he said to my face “He doesn’t care about safety.” I was shocked at this statement”.

Well, based on my experience and what I have seen, I’ve got no problem believing this statement was made.  In my case, as you know, they had no problem with illegal (code) wiring that put my house at risk of a fire and my children’s lives at risk.   They even got a building inspector to OK the wiring so that the house could be sold and later, the former Mayor of Oakville, Ann Mulvale let the investigation go south.

In Ottawa, they were convicted of building an illegal berm, which could have put people’s property and lives at risk due to flooding.  In Milton, they began construction on land that had recently been fertilized with human waste, putting the construction worker’s lives at risk (they had to go and be tested) and the lives of the neighbours.  Not much consideration in terms of safety.

I was visiting my house building site and observed someone driving a large construction fork-lift.  I would normally have pulled him over for drunk driving after watching him bounce off scaffolding and other objects.  Not a care in the work while he rampaged around the construction site.

And, in regards to personal safety, some Mattamy bully boys approached me and I know I had some fear for my safety.  Fortunately they saw it was better to back off and it wasn’t due to my fine physique 🙂

So, if you want an insight into how some trades are treated by Mattamy and why maybe your house was less than perfect, visit the link.  It is an eye-opener.  Maybe Wikileaks should visit the construction industry and see what is really happening with our money.  I can recommend Mattamy be on the list.

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November 17, 2010

Does Mattamy practice truth in advertising?

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I recently read a promotional piece in the Sun Homes-Extra section describing the new Mattamy Homes development in Airdrie, Alberta.

They stated: “Mattamy Homes designs communities both as the builder and the developer, giving great insight into how a community should function.”

They go on to say: “This ensures the community meets the high standards of the master-planned design,” says Norah Latter, marketing manager of Mattamy Homes.”

Well based on their performance in Florida, Bracebridge, Cambridge and Ottawa, I am wondering just how close to the truth these statements really are.  I dread to think that some people will make a decision to buy one of these homes based on this description.  Lauren Barr may work for SunMedia but, I think her content is more Mattamy supplied.

She quotes Norah Latter, a Mattamy Homes marketing manager.  “What makes Windsong great is our approach towards communities,” Latter says.  They are about people first and our designs reflect what will build a great neighbourhood.”

This description certainly would not match the way Mattamy treated the people who entrusted their money in the Fairwinds Kanata Ottawa project.  Illegal berms in the area and selling homes with no permit to proceed.  This is the reality of how they approach “communities”.  Putting in “illegal (code) wiring” is another way they approach communities.

This is a trend they have practiced over the years but, it seems they continue their way by depending on the power of advertising and propaganda.  And building inspectors not doing their job.

With all the donations that Peter Gilgan has made lately, I am wondering if he is trying to make people forget the savage treatment he has put people through or, is he pushing for another “Entrepreneur of the Year Award”.  Maybe trying for the World Title. 

What do you say Peter?  Cat got your tongue?
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November 9, 2009

Homeowners – cards are stacked against you.

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Recently, a happy Albertan Mattamy homeowner wondered why all the dissatisfied Mattamy homeowners don’t sue Mattamy.  After reading a recent column by Bob Aaron of the Toronto Star, you can see why.

Appears that as a homeowner, you chances aren’t that great and that it all depends on the judge.  According to a report by Harry Herskowitz, a lawyer with DelZotto Zorzi LLP and, a “well known and respected lawyer for builders and developers and chair of Tarion” , for one not to close on a house purchase, “it must be a fundamental breach of contract which substantially deprives the buyer of the whole benefit of the transaction.”

Note his position with Tarion and a lawyer for builders and developers.  Need I say more.

According to this article, at one closing, there was only temporary power, heating was incomplete, kitchen unfinished (no island) and other items not installed and, no outside steps.  The garage floor was not poured and construction debris was strewn about the house.  A municipal building inspector declared it unsuitable for occupancy.   The buyers refused to close but when the inspector came back at 4:00pm (hmm, working overtime was he) the water was now connected but the furnace wasn’t fully installed (July) and it was deemed fit for occupancy.  I would think some of the items would make the house unsafe.  But then, Mattamy puts in illegal wiring that could kill children and they feel it is no problem. 

The builder sued for damages and won.  Now, in my case I had no power at all but, I guess the judge probably would say I could light candles or something.

So, as you can see, you really need to have a lawyer up to speed on real estate law before telling the builder his house isn’t up to snuff.  And a good house inspector to guide you through an inspection and add documented support if you are going to proceed against a builder.

So, to our friend in Alberta, it is harder than you think to argue for what is rightfully yours but, the system protects those who don’t want to give you quality for the money you spent.  Even the Ontario government won’t put into legislation that a homeowner has the right to put a house inspector into the purchase agreement. 

Who is protecting who?

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October 27, 2009

Is Alberta truly happy with Mattamy?

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I have just had a comment from an “Arvin” in Alberta who recently bought a Mattamy home and is quite pleased with it.  First of all, this is not unusual in that I am sure Mattamy doesn’t screw up every house they build but, my blog focuses on those they do screw up and their attitude, etc is such that the new homeowner ends up being screwed.

Arvin wonders why if there are so many out there who are dissatisfied, why are there no lawsuits and why Mattamy gets so many awards?

In my case, I can’t tell you much due to the gag order but, I tried to go the route of having the law changed so that homeowners would be protected by being allowed to hire a house inspector and have it put into the purchase agreement.

By the way Arvin, get Mattamy’s permission and I’ll tell you the real story.  See if they will let you learn the truth if you feel they are so honest and, if they say no, wonder why.

From reading my blog you will note how this was brushed aside by the Town of Oakville council, led by former mayor Ann Mulvale (who was arranging donations from Mattamy) and by the Pr0vince of Ontario who said this would cost the consumer (much like the eco audit they have implemented).

Why others have not, I can only speculate.  One reason you don’t read about it, unless Mattamy wants it in the open, is that the problem is mediated prior to court and a settlement made.  Like the human rights complaint where Mattamy agreed to allow those with special needs to be told upfront the costs of adjustments to the house.  Of course, this showed how benevolent Mattamy is, after the complaint started.  Also, how many papers will print the complaints, considering the advertising revenue they get from Mattamy.  (imagine what a 2 page spread in the Toronto Star costs)

One blog, which outlined the Ottawa problem  of Mattamy selling without permits, called “Mattamy Fairwinds Kanata Phase 5 Delay” is no longer functioning.  Did the bloggers reach a settlement or, were they threatened with a lawsuit and decided they couldn’t pay the legal fees?  Who knows?

Others try to work it out with Mattamy and get the runaround and by the time it comes to getting a lawyer, they either don’t have the money to fight a billionaire or, they decide to move on (sometimes literally).

Some rely on the advertised reputation of Mattamy or, they read in blogs how good Mattamy was to some people and try to work it out.  When this doesn’t work, can they afford a lawsuit?  I doubt it when these same people can’t even afford the relatively cheap cost of a house inspector.

And, remember, you may still have to pay your lawyer even if you win.

And the awards?  Well, Mattamy has fallen from J D Power’s grace this year into 2nd place and around last place, depending on the area.  And, if you think Mattamy is so great due to the awards, why would anyone buy a house from another builder who is obviously second class according to the J D. Power’s standard.  Like Obama getting the Nobel peace award, we all know how flimsy the award system is.

So, I really do hope Arvin that you will be happy in your Mattamy home but remember, just because the lawyers haven’t been put into a feeding frenzy, it doesn’t mean that people aren’t getting shafted daily by Mattamy

We are a very large crowd out there that wasn’t given the voice we should have.  Who gives the biggest donations and reaps the benefits?

Nooooooobody but Mattamy.

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February 7, 2009

Mattamy Homes – Do people in Alberta get a garage door opener?

I guess the people in Alberta are treated differently than the people in Ontario by Mattamy Homes. I just visited their website advertising their product in Alberta. They state the following”

“There’s a lot more to a new home than four walls.
We build our homes to reflect the needs of the people who will live in them. We keep the interior spaces open and inviting and take care of the many little things that help make a house a home.”

Do the people in Alberta not need a garage door opener? We have firm evidence that Mattamy Homes, in Ontario, build homes that cannot have a garage door opener fitted to the house, unless you are willing to do a very expensive and major overhaul to the garage. Do the people in Alberta get a home that can easily have a garage door opener installed or, are their homes built without the capability of a garage door opener being installed?

What do you say Alberta?

Can you shed some light on this phenomenon of a house being built whereby a garage door opener cannot be installed, unless you do a major refit of the garage? Or, maybe the magical “garage door opener” isn’t an option way out in Alberta. Maybe in Alberta, a garage door opener doesn’t make “a house a home”.

Where forth art though garage door opener?

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