Oakville Homes

September 26, 2013

Cowboy Builders – they exist and some have big names. Right Peter?

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I’ve just returned from a very informative trip to England.  It was nice to see homes that have been around for a while – centuries to be exact.  Had a Guinness in a pub that was over 400 years old – the pub that is.  While there, I viewed a show called, “Cowboy Builders“.  Basically a show that helps people ripped off by bad builders.  Sort of like a Mike Holmes or Brian Baeumler type of show.

Major difference – they actually name the less than honest builders with pictures, company name and anything else that would identify them and help the consumer.  Brian and Mike are good at what they do and help consumers to learn what to look for but, they don’t name the bad builders.  That is up to the consumer to guess while watching the show.  I understand Mattamy has been showcased on at least one of Holmes’ shows. To be a true consumer advocate, they should name the builders who are not up to snuff.

But, it seems that the lawyers rule the roost.  Say anything and they try to send their kids through college or buy a bigger yacht on your dime.  They don’t seek the truth, just try to shut you up and help their client make more money without fear of being exposed for what they are.  Back in the day, you were apt to be persuaded to shut up with a bully boy but now, it is the threat of a lawsuit from some Bay Street lawyer.  Few people can actually afford to defend themselves in today’s court system.  Actually, Mattamy has tried both on me.

I have had correspondence with someone fighting another builder and they are having to pay quite a bit to get their story out there – a story even municipal governments don’t want printed.  Developers pay a lot of money into the political system and they want their monies worth.  Some people donate money to a good cause – without strings attached and then there are those that donate to ensure their name is emblazoned upon the edifice.  There was a large donor to the Oakville YMCA but there is nothing named after him.  He donated for the cause, not the advertising.

If I had seen a show like “Cowboy Builders” and noticed it was about a builder I was interested in, I would have second thoughts about buying.  Or, I would ensure I built in some protection.  I would be forewarned and able to make a more educated decision on what to do.

Our system is flawed.  It seems Tarion, dominated by builders/developers, has a poor reputation when it comes to protecting the consumer.  Our municipal building departments – who are charged with protecting the consumer and ensuring all facets of the (weak) building code are covered.  In Oakville, we have seen this fail.

Speaking of Oakville.  I have had communication with the Mayor and Building Department.  They have replied with nice letters that when you read between the lines, basically tell me to FO.  Yes, they quote me the scripture, according to the building code but take no responsibility for what they do.  According to them, they will act when a builder like Mattamy tells them they are ready.  What happened to a proactive enforcement program?  Personnel issues maybe?  If you are short numbers, then why not let homeowners hire house inspectors to monitor the build and report infractions to the building inspectors.  Why would you be frightened of this?  As a municipality, it would be quite legal for you to pass this bylaw.  The municipality is responsible for enforcing the building code and this would be one positive strategy to allow the municipality to complete this task.

I forgot – DONATIONS.  And don’t forget pre-election photo-ops.

I ask the Mayor of Oakville – why no apology from the Town of Oakville for putting my children at risk by allowing Mattamy to sell a house with illegal wiring?  What are you afraid of?  They can’t sue you for telling the truth.  Unless your lawyers are afraid of the truth.  A simple apology for the transgression.  Unless of course, your cash cow has told you that there will be no more money if you do it.  Get a back bone and stand up to the developer/builder and put it on the table.

Something honest people do.

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April 2, 2013

Town of Oakville – why are you frightened of passing a bylaw to protect homeowners? Might lose the donations from Mattamy????

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Monday, April 1st.

Never know when you might get an April Fools Day joke thrown at you.  Social media, friends, large companies and the media all share in the day and try to show some ingenuity in making you laugh at your own expense.  One headline screamed: “McCallion faces conflict of interest heat again.” in the April 1st edition of the Toronto Star.  It was no joke.  Hurricane Hazel was back at it again.  I think they will have to change her non de plume to “Teflon McCallion”.

Seems she has more excuses than Carter has Little Liver Pills and, she has added the usual – “her actions were inadvertent” in her response to the charges.  Much like the Town of Oakville’s action in my case I guess.  Letting Mattamy Homes sell a house without electricity and illegal wiring.  I wonder if the donation to former mayor Anne Mulvale’s “Wellspring” project were “inadvertent”?

Think you won’t have problems with a house.  I mean, you have your lawyer, the builder’s reputation and, the omnipresent building inspector from the municipality?  You know, the guy who gives you a hard time when you want to build a deck out back.  Deck bad – illegal wiring good.  And, you know the union will guarantee the quality of labour for their workers.  Yeah, right.  They only argue for more money so the union bosses can make more.  If your builder hires non-union like Mattamy, then who knows the quality of these guys.  I know some are dedicated professionals who do good work but, they have to work with the unlearned and non-caring as well as the occasional unwashed.  Only the builder can truly control the quality, if they so desire.

A Winnipeg family had the luxury of two, count em, two builders screw up their custom house.  What went wrong?  For the full story go to this link but a few of the issues were as follows:

This from Beach Rocke Engineering Ltd.

Rock report

As well, it was stated they had the following issues, which is not the complete list:

“The couple said they were being billed for added electrical circuits, beyond what was called for in the original plans.

A few months later, the Schadeks found water several feet deep in the crawl space below the basement floor.

The Schadeks hired an engineer to examine the problem. He found damage to joists from excessive moisture and discovered the vapour barrier in the basement wasn’t sealed.

The engineer also cited violations of the National Building Code unrelated to the water problem.”

If you read the article, you will note they have little government protection.  Obviously municipal inspectors don’t always cut it.  And, the insurance program was screwed up.

I have been trying to get the original report done by a Town of Oakville employee (Building Department) on my issue and all I get are copies of the “waste of skin” council reports, of which I have had copies for years.  I’ve sent 3 letters explaining what I want.

Maybe if I used some “Idle No More” tactics I might have better luck.  Camp out at town hall?  Block their access to the local Timmies?  Stop the donation trucks?

Also asked for a report on how the building department was going to handle inspections at the new Mattamy “The Preserve” sub-division.  So far, I got a quote from the Ontario Building Code, which I already knew.  Funny thing.  According to this regulation, the town building department won’t inspect any of the new homes unless Mattamy notifies them things are ready.  Now, it says “shall” but we all know that Mattamy has failed in the past regarding “SHALL”.

They shall not begin construction on land fertilized with human waste (Milton), they shall not do terra-forming without permit (Ottawa) and they shall not sell a house with illegal wiring (Oakville).  Seems they don’t understand the word “SHALL”.  Except I understand Mr. Gilgan uses the word “SHALL”  in reference to using any tactic to build on his $1.8 BILLION net worth.  Some of which is probably due to shortcuts that made him money and might have had some bearing on the quality of your home.  At least I can prove it in my case. (for the Gilgan lawyer trust)

So, based on this past experience, and lots more, I would think the Town of Oakville building department would be a little more pro-active in ensuring the rights and safety of homeowners was protected.  I mean, they do pay the taxes.  Mattamy only gives donations to the Town and gives politicians photo-ops.  What is more important – safety or photo-ops?  Seems I have already answered that question.  Anyways, Mr. Tutert at the Town of Oakville building department will shortly be getting another letter asking him to expand on his strategy to protect the citizens of Oakville from bad building practices.  If he only waits to be notified, he might be waiting a long time.  Show some initiative and make sure the Building Code is followed.  The Building Code doesn’t really cut it, according to Mike Holmes, but it is all we have.  So, when you don’t enforce the bare minimum, god only knows how bad the house really is.

You see, your elected representatives won’t pass a by-law to protect you by ensuring you have the right to hire a house inspector to monitor the building of your new home.  I mean, we’ve already proven the town can’t do a perfect job.  Maybe they could tell me why they won’t do it.  They state the “Building Code” is not legislated by them.  Yes, we all know that.  But, look at the small print guys.

THE MUNICIPALITY IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ENFORCING THE BUILDING CODE.

Got the picture.

Pass a by-law that allows homeowners to hire a house inspector to monitor the build and ensure the building code is followed.  Have the by-law state that the building inspector must report all infractions to the homeowner and, THE MUNICIPAL BUILDING INSPECTOR (for follow-0up).  This will increase the “eyes on the street” (kind of like CPTED – Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) and make the Municipality more effective in enforcing the Building Code, which they are responsible for.

Hey!!!!  It’s a win/win/win for the Building department, homeowners and, HONEST, QUALITY BUILDERS everywhere.  Only a corrupt and poor builder would argue against it.  Right Mattamy?  Matter of fact Mr. Gilgan, why not tell your political flunkies to pass the by-law because Mattamy is a quality builder who wants the homeowner to receive the best protection they can have.  According to your PR, you build quality – sorry, I forgot, you now advertise lifestyle not quality.  Anyways, anyone would make all those donations for a good cause can’t really be against this by-law and, considering you are the big guy in the home building market, your word would have sway.  Unless you are using that “sway” to stop it.  Hmmmmmm.  What’s up Gilgan, except your $1.8 Billion lifestyle?

So, why are they so reluctant to let a homeowner protect themselves?

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December 29, 2012

Mattamy training – the Good, Bad and Ugly can result.

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If you watch the Mike Holmes show you will note that he usually deals with older houses and the issues they can have. He sometimes showcases fairly new homes.  The homeowners are either facing expensive renovations to repair shoddy workmanship by the builder or, need to correct some suspect work by a renovator.  In a recent article by Holmes in the National Post titled: “Don’t let yourself be the fraud man out” he brings out some good points.

“They don’t care about you. They don’t care about your kids. They don’t care if your house burns down. What they care about is getting your money. And they will do and say anything to get you to give it to them.

Intimidation is used a lot by fraud suspects. They’ll threaten to put a lien on your house or report you to the police. This makes homeowners not want to report anything, or deal with them altogether — to the point where homeowners just want them to go away. And that lets them off the hook.

Homeowners need to report home renovation fraud suspects. These cases go unreported too often. People are embarrassed, and think they won’t be taken seriously.”

Interesting point is that the above could relate to some of our builders.  I can showcase several instances where the above would relate to Mattamy in particular.  It is a matter of record.

According to one source, there is a shortage in the trades – 35,000 to 60,000 workers.  And, not just anyone can do the work in a professional manner.  I for one do have respect for professionals in the trades.  I have constructed log cabins, pole barns and shacks using everything from chainsaws to circular saws etc and, I can say the places are still standing and don’t leak.  More than I can say about some Mattamy shacks.  Now, the difference between me and a professional tradesperson is the finishing.  That is where a professional shines.

We depend on a builder, our municipal building inspectors, and the trades themselves to ensure we get a good finished product.  Some builders don’t seem to get that picture though based on the end results.  As I pointed out, there is a shortage of workers and some builders may get the cream of the crop while other builders don’t.  You may get a cheaper house but that may be due to the cheaper labour costs.

Based on my experience with Mattamy and the tales given to me by others, it scares me that Mattamy is involved in the training of our newest tradespeople.

 “The Mattamy Homes Project provides students with a unique hands-on opportunity to experience the many skills and trades available in the home building industry while building a house from the ground up.”

I wonder if they learn the Mattamy method of selling a house with illegal wiring?  Or maybe, how to get a Town of Oakville building inspector to pass a furnace with illegal wiring – wiring that puts children at risk?  Or, how to build illegal berms or destroy wetlands?  I almost forgot – how to begin construction on land fertilized with human waste and put people’s lives at risk.

With Mattamy, you seem to get the Good, Bad or Ugly.

Oh yes, Mike Holmes did warn us about contractors who don’t care if they burn your house down.  Ever try to deal with a trade building your tract house?  The builder doesn’t like that, although they sometimes don’t bother dealing with the issue.  Some even get the mayor to bury a report.  And, if you complain too much, you could get the patented bully boy method developed by Mattamy.  I wonder if the T-shirts were form fitted?  Or, like Mike Holmes stated: “Report you to the police”.  Oh yes, Mattamy may have done that as well to me.  Fortunately the officer understood bullshit when he saw it, and it wasn’t from me.  🙂

As we go into 2013 keep it in mind that your only friend might just be a professional house inspector.  For those buying into the dream development called “The Preserve“, remember past deeds by Mattamy in Oakville.  Remember the building inspector didn’t look after the homebuyer but the builder.  You might want to ensure your rights and hire someone to protect your interests and be part of your team.  One wonders just how many inspections between coffee breaks the Town of Oakville might make in “The Preserve”.  I know that when they did my place I ended up with destroyed gutters.

Ask yourself – why would an ethical and professional builder be worried about a house inspector?  Can you answer that Mr. Gilgan?  I know I got the Ugly because I didn’t hire an inspector.

P.S.  If any of the Mattamy lawyers see something they don’t like, let me know – you have my number.  But then, only the truth ends up here, unlike other dealings with Mattamy. (except the stuff off the record)
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December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas all and Happy Holidays – Even you Mattamy.

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Although, I’m not sure if Mattamy and Peter Gilgan will get a gift or, a lump of coal based on their past performance.  They have been naughty we know.

“Things are getting worse, not better, in the quest to bring you the truth, writes Kevin Donovan.”  So he states in a recent Toronto Star article titled: “Canada’s great wall of secrecy”.  He recalls writing a story regarding corruption and he was able to put forth enough evidence in the article that it helped fuel a police investigation that culminated in three councillors and a developer being charged with “widespread bribery, favours and influence peddling”.  He laments the “freedom of information” laws that now restrict that type of investigation.  I am sure there are some builders out there that are happy.  Even Santa would find it difficult now to find out if they are naughty or nice.  Unless he just went by the donations.

When Mattamy put my children’s lives at risk there was a government report done.  A report that never saw the light of day.  It seems that Mattamy was able to hide behind the mayor’s skirt and the report never came out at the subsequent council meetings.  At least not in public.  Although the subsequent donation  by Mattamy to Wellspring was well publicized.  Maybe that earned Gilgan a visit from Santa Claus.

An article in the StarTribune speaks of a new Mattamy project in Medina, a city in Hennepin County, Minnesota, United States.  Seems that the city’s Planning Commission did not agree with the Mattamy proposal and was against the recommendation, whose chairman called it “boring” and said it “smacks of Plymouth.”  But, city council has approved the plans.  Hmmmm, I wonder if they get political donations from Mattamy.  Just asking.

And, Mattamy is living up to its Cambridge fame of “damn the wetlands, full construction ahead”.

“Although Mattamy did not propose any townhomes, it modified the project to meet some of the other planning commission concerns about traffic flow and open space. It proposed to build a 6-foot berm between the subdivision and the commercially designated land. To accommodate other objections about filling in a small wetland and cutting down too many trees in a corner of the property, Mattamy will donate about 3 acres and $150,000 to build a new park between its two subdivisions.”

Like Cambridge, they are going to destroy a wetland and, like Kanata, they are going to wipe out a bunch of trees.  So much for Mother Nature.  I wonder if she is a close friend of Santa Claus.  Maybe get Gilgan a lump of coal for doing the nasty to her.  Didn’t someone quit Mattamy over the anti-nature outlook of Mattamy’s streamrolling of the landscape?

Town council, elected to look after the citizens of their community votes yes, while the professional planning staff are told to stuff it.  So much for intelligent planning.  Interesting to look at donations in that town.  Oh yes, Mattamy is donating  3 acres and $150K for some parks.  Up here in Canada, developers are obligated to give that kind of stuff plus development fees.  I wonder if Medina is getting any development fees out of Mattamy or, will the taxpayer have to pay the freight?

Anyways Mattamy, nice to see things haven’t changed.  I’d have nothing to write about.  🙂   I guess being a billionaire (partly built on shortcuts and putting children’s lives at risk) doesn’t worry you – you can buy all the presents you want to put under your tree.

Sorry, I forgot, you cut them all down.

 

P.S.  By the way Peter, Merry Christmas (just in case – Happy Holidays) and, lets hope 2013 brings less issues and more cheer to those who buy homes based on faith of the system and reputations.  Remember – professional work will put Mike Holmes out of business.  Yeah, right.

And, for the Mattamy lawyers – bah humbug.  And, if you see anything you don’t like or is not true, you have my number.  Just call me and we’ll discuss whether changes are warranted or just bully boy strutting. ( well, Happy Holidays to you and yours – maybe a break from the Mattamy bully boys?)

 

 

 

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December 14, 2012

Will Oakville’s building department do a proper inspection of “the Preserve”? Unlike mine.

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The construction inquiry in Quebec regarding corruption is starting to unravel information we all knew was happening but was shovelled under the proverbial carpet.  In the December 13th Toronto Star there is an article on how a Quebec construction developer, Gilles Filiatreault, left Quebec’s corruption for a new life in Alberta and found it wasn’t much different.  It is alleged that a town manager wanted a piece of the action to ensure all went smoothly.  Filiatreault refused and ended up bankrupt after trying to fight a plethora of red tape – supposedly orchestrated by the town manager.  It is presently being investigated and lawsuits are flying.

Are we surprised?  I think we would be naive to think this stuff only exists in mafia controlled areas or Quebec.   No, there are people who all want a piece of the pie and those willing to pay to ensure they get what they want.  It is how it is done that sometimes covers the real purpose up.  We know building inspectors have received cash to pass things.  How many have succumbed to bribery is anyone’s guess but, it does happen.  Some have been charged but one never knows if your house was given the quick pass over by an inspector in exchange for a few bucks.  Your loss – his gain.

What about political donations?  I assume they were designed to allow individuals to help out their political interests by giving some sort of support.  This support is supposedly limited to certain amounts.  I assume one would normally support those politicians they would like to see in office based on their election platform.  Some may donate to ensure support in their own private projects.  Who knows.

Like I said, you normally donate to a political party because you believe in the platform they are selling.  Normal people do not donate to get something from the politician – right?  In the last provincial election I saw something very interesting.  Mattamy Homes donated money to the Liberal party over the year.  I’m sure Dalton McGuinty appreciated the high level of support he received – maximum donation.  Once he declared the election, Mattamy Homes donated the maximum during the campaign.  Something one would expect from a good corporate citizen.  Funny thing though, Mattamy Homes also donated to the max to the Conservative Party, just before the election.  Not sure why they would donate to Tim Hudak as well.  I mean, like I said, normal people donate to the party they believe in.  How can you believe in two parties?  Or, did Mattamy Homes have a change of heart and went from Liberal to Conservative?  Just a thought.  Considering Bob Rae won a provincial for the NDP, I’m surprised they didn’t slip a few bucks that way as well.  Cover all the bases – Green Party anyone.  Interesting that McGuinty quit just as the Quebec scandal was breaking…hmmmm.

In the Toronto Star article, they discuss a potential “shakedown” by the town manager for consideration.  When I had my issue with Mattamy Homes, the Town of Oakville did send someone to investigate.  I asked about a copy of the report and the answer given led me to believe I’d never see it.  He was right.  Now, the report probably would show (he seemed the honest type) that the Town of Oakville screwed up and, if I was going to, was liable to a lawsuit.  The lawyer’s clammed up, Town of Oakville town council buried the report and they skillfully slid it to the province and oblivion.  One of the councillors shifted to the province in the next election but didn’t follow through on his recommendation that the province investigate.  Now, the funny thing is and, I’m not accusing the Town of Oakville or mayor of taking bribes, Mattamy Homes gave a donation to Wellspring, a charity supported by ex-mayor Ann Mulgrave.  Funny how the world works.  Since then Mattamy has donated money to the YMCA and the new hospital.  I am sure it is out of the goodness of his billionaire heart, not for future considerations.  But one wonders – just how good the building department will do inspections at “The Preserve”.  For the sake of those buying there, I hope the building department does its job – if not for the safety part, which they did not do on my house.

One recommendation to the Town of Oakville.  Why not hire Mike Holmes to do the inspection.  We believe his credibility.

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December 12, 2012

Are Ontario builders afraid of B.C. home warranty program? Are they Mr. Gilgan?

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Buying a home is more complicated than people realize.  And, I’m not talking about the issues of deciding on the upgrades or what colour of paint and brick.  On one hand, you should have a lawyer that will review all the documentation and ensure you are not signing something that will cost you more money in the end.  The offer you are given to sign by the builder is slanted towards the builder and is not written in stone.  A seasoned real estate lawyer will walk you through it and make the appropriate changes so you have no surprises down the road with add-ons, supplemental charges and increased development charges.  You may not get your home for a couple of years (some in Kanata never got their Mattamy homes) and things change.  Non ethical builders will try to make you pay for any additional costs and if your purchase agreement wasn’t reviewed – you will pay.

A house inspector is a wise investment – cheaper than that splash board in the kitchen.  They can help you through the warranty period and give advice on what to report, when and just how to proceed.

Mention has been made about home warranty programs and in Ontario, you are stuck with Tarion – a builder/developer dominated program with less than golden reviews.  A comment by Jim (1st comment below) notes that in British Colombia, the warranty program is run by the insurance industry and is liable to that industry’s rules.  In Ontario – no control at all.  Even the ombudsman has no authority.  He notes that Manitoba and Alberta will be implementing a similar program to B.C.  Why are homeowners in Ontario not protected?

Do we need protection?  In my case I can show why and at the end of the blog you will read a rather long letter that shows why we do need protection. I had similar issues with my MattamyWith the noted problems in the 2nd noted comment, it does beg the question on just what did the homeowner do?  Although Tarion has a bad rep, it does have guidelines which must be followed.  If they didn’t follow the reporting guidelines, they are in trouble.  A comment by Tim noted that builders may try to stall you and all the photos in the world won’t help.

FOLLOW THE TIMELINES

Don’t let a builder talk you out of putting in your reports on time.  Afraid to lose their goodwill?  What if they don’t follow through.  So much for the goodwill.  A good builder will have issues fixed prior to the deadlines.  If they don’t, PROTECT YOURSELF.  Complaining afterwords with no documentation and photos is like putting on a condom after you caught the STD.  Just doesn’t work that way, except in both cases you do get f*cked.

If you go to the last comment on the blog, you will see a possible Mattamy stall.  Leaking shower stall.  In my case, they did fix the leak, after it leaked through the ceiling.  In the comment, it seems they have just passed it by.  And, no Tarion record so Mattamy or any other builder can just say – GOODBYE.

P.S. After I wrote this blog, I watched an episode of Mike Holmes.  Short story – young couple bought a new home to reduce maintenance issues.  Within two years, there was snow in the attic and leaks and they found improperly installed light fixtures and the room over the garage had the cold effect so common in our homes but easily fixed.  The builder left them out to hang.  Not my problem – remove the snow yourself.  So, you can see – these things happen.  Maybe just not to you but it does happen to people and builders leave people out to dry.  Some, like Mattamy, even put children’s lives at risk and don’t really care.  Protect yourself – your house just may not be perfect.

Comments:

Jim:

British Columbia has a far better system where Warranty Providers operate in a competive marketplace. They must be either an \Insurance company or backed by an insurance company who in turn is regulated by the Insurance commision and FICOM. Alberta and Manitoba are in the near process of implementing similar legislation to that of BC.

Why is it Tarion enjoys a monopoly?? Coverages for homes in BC and soon in Alberta are far superior to that of Tarion. 1 year for all labour and materials (15 months common property) 2 years building code violations, heating and ac sytems, plumbing and electrical, 5 years water penetration and 10 years for structural defects. Here we are in Ontario stuck with a company who enjoys a government sanctioned monopoly, seems to be above any insurance regulatory board, offers less coverage and who cares less about the consumer. Why not let true insurance companies in?? This only seems to make sense to me. I wonder what CEO at Tarion makes in this joke of a nonprofit setup. 
Jim

Why we need protection:

VALERY home builders of Hamilton operating in north Oakville are even worse. The town house I bought my mother was nearly falling apart after only 2-3 years.

Here’s a quick run down…

– Found lots of trash including drywall remnants, construction waste, drywall dust, cigarette packs, coffee cups and McDonald bags in many of the vents and much of the ductwork. They basically just used the ductwork as their dustpan and garbage can during construction. 
– Ductwork was improperly run resulting in barely any air pressure from some vents especially upstairs while others felt like a blow dryer. Ductwork had to be re-run properly after only a year at my expense.
– Found loose studs not even nailed in properly in the walls or even screwed to drywall. Repaired out of warranty at my expense.
– Could see drywall tapelines, improperly sanded tapelines in a number of walls
– 2 bedrooms had absolutely no insulation installed in exterior walls while others did, therefore those rooms were always very cold in winter.
– You could feel cold outside air in winter blowing in through the AC outlets on exterior facing walls
– Floorboards were not glued to the joists during construction resulting in a loud irritating squeaking sound whenever someone walked on the floors after only a few months
– Staircase became soft and squeaky after only a couple years due to them being improperly installed and to add insult to injury they were crooked
– You could hear wind howling through the attic, attic access hatch was not insulated by the builder allowing cold air to leak into house
– Basement floor was very unevenly poured. 1-4 inch difference in ceiling to floor height in many places. We had to re-pour concrete in certain sections just to get it level enough for framing and flooring. I have never seen such an un-level basement floor before in my life. 
– Concrete work was a joke. Front porch as well as all the neighbours front porches cracked deeply after the first or second year leaving very noticeable cracks running through the concrete that all needed to be filled at our expense. They also put a thin layer of concrete over the actual porch structure (dont ask me why) that started to chip away after little to no time. You would actually have to sweep the bits of chipped concrete up fairly regularly and after a while it just looked like hell.
– Builder installed the wrong light fixture in the kitchen during construction and when they came back to install the one we had ordered they left numerous large holes in the ceiling. They said they would come back that week and fix it and never did. Ever.   
– No sound insulation in interior walls or in the walls separating the units. Just drywall is all the separated the rooms and other units. You could hear a pin drop in other rooms and even the neighbours having conversations and watching TV word for word.
– You could feel the floor bouncing whenever the neighbours walked in their units from day one
– Builder privately recommended ‘a guy’ to install the fences. Fences were so poorly installed that they were loose, sagging and leaning after only 2 years and had to be completely replaced at our expense. 

When I brought up these issues with the builder they made excuses, stalled, delayed and missed appointments to come and look until the 1 year warranty ran out and then they said ‘Too bad, out of warranty’ even though I was trying to get them in to look at a few of the things for over 6 months!

And lastly…..The neighbours a few doors down and their children got very sick. Doctors could not find out what was wrong for over a year until a specialist recommended they do a mold test of their home as a last resort. When they did an exploratory hole to do the test in the basement drywall they found badly charred wall studs and tons of mold. It turned out that there was a fire in the basement during construction and the builder just drywalled over the burned, wet studs which caused mold to flourish and the family to become sick.

If you want to pay your hard earned money for a new home that is improperly slapped together using the cheapest materials by a bunch of low grade piece workers (look up piece work, its construction based on speed not quality as they get paid per house finished) then a VALERY Home would be perfect for you.

I sure learned my lesson with buying a new home from VALERY, hopefully you don’t make the same mistake.

Mattamy Stall???

This is a long history of events but in a nutshell this is what has happened

– Bought home around 5 years back (Mattamy)
– Had some mild water damage around shower door
– Mattamy reps said water coming out under shower door and said minor issue. I unfortunately ignored it.
– 2 year warranty got over, however Mattamy reps kept coming for other issues and kept saying this water issue was minor .. just some drywall repair
– Problem grew very very slowly and its near 5 years now and had little mold outside.
– Mattamy said I did not do maintaince caulking, however Mattamy manager said if its an issue from them to fix due to poor house construction they would
– Removing drywall (as directed by Mattamy reps) from various areas showed a lot of mold and problem is not minor. It is possible water may be seeping through the tiles, but why is it coming out of the rubber protective sheet? Also its not drops of water but quite a bit of water (but contained within the drywall wood bars. Hence strongly suspect hole in rubber sheet.
– Mattamy still says they will do nothing about it.

To me this is an issue since house construction, but only it had surfaced as an apprarently minor problem. Now to repair it may requiring removing all the tiles and fixing the rubber sheet. Should I just dig deep into my wallet and fix it or should I keep escalating? The Mattamy manager at Milton does not seem inclined to help further. Who can I escalate this too.

Vid 1 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DokVFQieM-0
Vid 2 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rW64BgRZZbg

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December 9, 2012

When politicians and developers work together – not always a good thing. Right Gilgan?

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So, you’ve stood out in line, freezing with your lucky number and can’t wait to get in and spend your hard-earned money on a new home.  Much like some did in the new Mattamy subdivision called “The Preserve”.  At the end of this blog, I have reprinted a comment from Tim made on my October 10th, 2012 blog titled: “Mike Holmes loves PERMITS.  Mattamy, maybe not?  What do you say Gilgan?”.  For fans of Mike Holmes, you may have seen the noted episode or, other episodes that show that a new house doesn’t necessarily mean a well-built house.  Even a fairly new Mattamy home has been showcased by Holmes and issues shown.  Issues that should never have happened and, most importantly, should never have been passed by a building inspector.  Much like my case, which I have shown on a number of occasions.  Showcasing the Town of Oakville’s attitude towards personal safety of the homeowners.  Illegal wiring anyone?  Now, they did tell Mattamy to change some gutters which they felt were a fire hazard but, didn’t care about the shoddy workmanship used to destroy my perfectly good gutters and leaving a mess in its place.  But, it was alright, at least according to the Mattamy guy.

Tim brings up a good point.  If you find something wrong and it was actually inspected by a building inspector, why would any subsequent inspection say anything was wrong.  The municipality would not want to open itself up to a potential lawsuit.  Maybe that is why the Town of Oakville never apologized for its mistake on my house, even though I told them I wouldn’t sue.  I know it is contrary to a lawyer’s ethics, but some people do actually tell the truth.  In my case, I never did sue but, the town’s lawyers clammed up worse than a virgin at a whores get together.

So, it begs the question – in Oakville, will the Town of Oakville’s building inspectors actually inspect every house being built by Mattamy in “The Preserve”?  The town is responsible for the building code (which they will tell you every time they issue you a permit) and thus should inspect every house at every construction point.  I am told that in tract housing, building inspectors only inspect a few samples and consider that if one is built well, they all are, even though different crews may be actually doing the construction.  Maybe they depend on the builder’s supervisors?  In my case, he seemed to be working more on his own house up the street (very well-built with all sorts of extras) than looking after my place.  He even bragged he could build a house in a month.  I believe it, based on what I have seen.  But then, haste makes waste.

Based on Tim’s comment and my own experience, I think I will be inquiring on just how the Town of Oakville intends to monitor Mattamy’s build.  I mean, they screwed up in my case (documented Mr. Lawyer) and so, based on past history, have they changed their inspection policy to ensure everyone gets a fair inspection.  Only fair, considering the homeowner is paying for it.

I also intend to ask the mayor, town clerk and, building department to check my records (I know they exist as they were part of a council meeting) and see just what was inspected on my house.  Kind of nice to see just what was actually inspected and what was done.

Good luck those having a house built. Especially in “The Preserve”.  Don’t forget, Mattamy has made major donations in the area.  At least these were in the open, unlike those donations in Quebec that are being investigated.  But then, where there is smoke, there is fire?  In my case, my investigation was buried while Wellspring, a project of the mayor, got a large deserving donation from Mattamy.  Was it just the timing?  Who knows?  But when you the homeowner depend on building inspectors to look after your interests remember, their bosses are getting donations from those you need protection from.    Maybe that is why the building inspectors don’t have time to inspect all the new houses – they are too busy inspecting the average guy who wants to build a rec room or something and gets fully inspected at his cost.  Wish my house had received the true building permit inspection some of my friends have experienced.  Maybe when I go to do a rec room and get the inspector around, I can show him how the building inspector screwed up in the first one.  Another report to be buried?

Look forward to hearing from the Town of Oakville.

 “A Good read. I do home renos and repairs here in the Durham Area. It irks me that people are forced to buy permits only to be let down by the very same people that issued them to the home owner. To me this is just a cash grab by the municipalities.
> The recent episode of “Make It Right” highlighted that very issue where the Toronto city inspector passed the work years ago. Now the new home owners have issue and want to make a claim using “tilte insurance” something that is suppose to cover you at a time like this. But.. and there it is.. “But”  the city has to come in and inspect the work to deemed the previous reno faulty.
> AH but this should be no problem. Dont think so. If the city deemed the work unsatisfactory then that will make the city ultimately responsible since they passed the work in the first place. So what happens. Well the home owner cant claim on the insurance and the city washed its hands with it. The whole system frustrates me to the point where Ill just work for my clients to do the job right and for a fair price. I wont be buying any large house or adding to  a car collection like homes, but i make a modest living sadly due to shoddy contractors.”

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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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October 24, 2012

Measure twice – cut once Mr. Gilgan. And, haste makes waste (to homebuyer at least)

I once reported about surfing the net and finding a lot of issues with Mattamy – some criminal and, very few about a selected group of builders I checked.  Seems I spoke to soon.  At Homestars.com, 28 reviews give Mattamy an overall score of 4.3.  Comments such as this were common: “This builder is absolutely brutal. I really don’t know where the positive comments come from because talking to all my neighbours, they have similar or worse issues than me (foundation cracks).”  I found this complaint interesting in that they had to do a PDI while workmen were still on the job.  Hard to do I can tell you.

Fieldgate Homes had only 10 reviews and a score of 4.0.  As with Mattamy, there were similar problems but the one glaring item is the lack of aftercare.  The fact that they were just left with the problems is bad enough but the fact they even happened is worse.  What, no quality control.  Sorry, not an advertised option.

Can you imagine buying a new car with some of the interior panels not installed, no working electrical system or, the exterior paint job is only half-finished?  How about a perennial leaking moonroof?  You wouldn’t be expected to accept such a vehicle.  I doubt there is a dealer that would turn over such a monstrosity to a new car buyer.  But, Mattamy would.  They have done it on numerous occasions.  Me included. (fact for lawyer)

But, it seems that you are expected to accept these minor issues as part of the homebuyer process.  Those who get the “perfect” home and submit the 10 out of 10 survey think we that those of us who got the shaft are being overly picky.  Some even thought that someone’s home not having all the drywall on closing was being picky.  Those doing the “perfect” score I think are just setting up the resale market for themselves. 🙂

Really comes down to “ETHICS”.  We have builders doing business with convicted criminals – attempt murder etc or, sliding some extra cash to various politicians (Quebec inquiry) and, donating money to various politician’s interests for the photo-ops.  Hard to fight that isn’t it when you get the “trash” house.  Those people accepting the donations from the builders are the same people in charge of the building inspectors.  Kind of like the Chief of Police getting “donations” from mob bosses.  Hmmm, that has happened.

The following illustrates why we need the “right” to hire a house inspector to monitor our house build – largest investment most people will make in their life.

The pictures below illustrate some of the issues – just some of the over 200 items that were noted.  I should note that Mattamy seems to be taking care of some of this but, not necessarily all.  The structure issue was recognized by the framers, who it seems were told to not bother and carry on.  A problem that would be covered up by drywall and maybe not identified by a house inspector coming in for the 30 day or 1 year inspection.  Hey, even a coat of paint can cover up a plethora of issues.  Ask Mike Holmes.

Here is part of their problem:

after we moved into the house

1. House was lifted up from the basement -but nothing was moving up, but down.
2. Let’s do the soil check – cut out the footing, also cut the sewer pipe by accident – no apology of course.
3. Let’s lift up the house from main floor – open up all the walls first!

4.  and all expected damage by lifting the house from inside

Mattamy was doing something but, all after the people moved in.  In my case, the resulting dust ruined my hard drive and, didn’t help the marriage much either.

And then, they got the love note from a worker:


“Then I found this hidden message written on top of my kitchen cabinet
“DONT FUKIN CARE!””

Kind of makes you warm and fuzzy knowing Mattamy has these types of workers and, if this extends to warranty, kiss your ass goodbye in terms of aftercare.  And, does this extend to the top with Mr. Gilgan?  Do these issues interfere with his strategy to name the entire world after him?  I find it interesting – one reporter said he was a shy man.  I’d hate to see how much he would sign over with his name if he had an ego!!!!!!!

These issues are all “ethics” and being a professional. Seems Mattamy might be making some progress on this case BUT, it should not have happened and the chances of it happening would have been less with a homebuyer paid for house inspector monitoring the build.  Why build and repair later – not very cost-effective unless of course, you hope the people don’t discover the issues until after the warranty period is over.  Sometimes that is why you see a number of homes being dumped in a sub-division.  Issues arise thtpeople don’t want to worry about nor, have knowledge of.

Like selling a car before the repair stage starts.

 

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October 16, 2012

Mr. Gilgan – is Mattamy afraid of PROFESSIONAL house inspectors?

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No, I don’t have a thing for Mike Holmes.  I just like his thoughts on quality.  Yes, a home built entirely by Holmes would probably be out of my range but, his ideas on “quality” should not cost an arm and leg to incorporate into a builder’s policy. Notice that a lot of builders don’t mention quality in their ads anymore.  Look at the two page ad Mattamy puts into every Toronto Star Saturday Homes edition.  Nothing about quality, just lifestyle. What they don’t seem to realize is that when you are faced with daily quality issues in your home, your lifestyle will suck.

You know I have pushed for “Professional” house inspectors.  At first, people thought I was crazy promoting the hiring of house inspectors for a new home.  Hey, Mattamy et al had top reputations it seemed but, the growing use of the internet has shown these reputations to sometimes be a sham.  The internet expands “word of mouth” so that we all get a say.  Not just those few selected for the “surveys”.  Sometimes bought and paid for by extra service, upgrades and flowers.

But, like the builders, there are fly-by night house inspectors.  Some well meaning, others out to just make a quick buck based on bad builders.  They were really no better than some builders.  Others worked their hearts out trying to build a good reputation for house inspectors.

In a a recent Calgary Herald article, they mention that B.C. and Alberta require house inspectors to be licenced and, in that article, Holmes states that Ontario is investigating this increased measure of professionalism.  A good move to ensure better quality house inspectors – a level of measurement of skill.

Holmes points out that there are signs in a house that point to potential problems and that a good house inspector should be able to spot these.  In a resale house, that is the only method available – observation of visible symptoms.  Unlike Holme’s show, most people can’t afford for their house inspector to do a look-see.  In Holme’s case, he does the look-see and finds the problem.  But, I think most sellers might let you see the symptom but not do surgery on the house to find the cause – unless you are willing to pay the freight.  I feel it is better to monitor the build and thus ensure all is right.  Something you cannot depend on the building inspector to do for you.  At least in my case, right Town of Oakville?

In my case, I was positive that Mattamy left out the insulation in my bay window.  Their response – we’ll check and if the insulation is there, you pay for all the damage.  New homewoner – so I bit the bullet until I replaced the leaking window and found I was right.  Didn’t do me any good – Mattamy was long gone, donating money to various politicians.  On a Mattamy home, I recommend you consider replacing the entire window structure to the brick work, otherwise you might have warranty issues with the window company.  The Mattamy company who put in the original windows never did the warranty work and they are now working the area.  I pity those who hired the lower bid in this case.

I like the fact they want to upgrade the standards for house inspectors but a government concerned about builder quality would allow a potential homebuyer the OPTION to hire a house inspector to monitor the build.  Even the government hires someone to monitor construction projects they pay for.  I was actually going to Tweet this idea to McGuinty but he quit before I could do it.  I wonder which scandal made him pull the plug.  Maybe one developer donation too many?

Write your MPP and demand this right to protect yourself.  What are they afraid of? Reduced donations from the developers?  Or, as is happening in Quebec – less money skimmed off the top by the mob.  A subject shortly coming to Ontario methinks.  Right Gilgan?

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