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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February 9, 2011

Quality – Is it Mattamy or the Trades who are ultimately responsible?

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Unless you can be your own contractor, it is normal for most people to go through a builder to get their home built.  It can be the normal Mattamy style tract house or a custom build.  No matter who it is, it is one person responsible for building and selling you the house.  They will either have their own in-house construction crew or they will sub-contract to various trades to get the house built.

But, it is the builder in the end who is responsible for what you get.

I was just reading a thread in a local forum and it seems that some are having moisture problems in the house – condensation on the windows and some had resulting mould.  Some made comment about the crappy build  that Mattamy had done – windows, etc. 

Now, there can be a plethora of reasons for condensation in the house.  From being sealed too tightly to cooking too much and generating steam and having the humidifier up too high.  As well, crappy low quality windows and poor window sealing can contribute to the overall problem.  Not necessarily a Mattamy issue.  But, in this case, the people live in Mattamy homes.  And, it was noted, some had lived in other homes and had no problems.  Seems though, that a couple of parties were upset about what they felt was Mattamy bashing.  Fair comment but in the end, the people had issues with Mattamy.

As one person noted:

“Let’s not forget who we bought our home from “MATTAMY”, so in response to XXXXXXX & XXXX, that’s the person I would be laying blame on as well.

Mattamy rep’s countine to pass everything off to the “trade’s” they say, it has nothing to do with us” they say. Sorry Mattamy we didn’t buy our home from the “trades”. It’s Mattamy’s responsibility to ensure the trades are doing the highest level of work to ensure we get what we are promised, good quaility homes.

If it’s not the window’s its something else. Mattamy’s quaility is overall very poor. In many of cases the home owner’s do what they told to do, and still its not enough.”

  

Yes, who do you complain to? 

With my problems, I asked for the information on the trades and that myself and my lawyer would deal directly with them.  I was told they don’t hand out that information.  So, if they won’t tell you who to contact with the trades then I’m sorry Mattamy, but you have to take responsibility for not ensuring the “Trades” under your control did the job professionally.  Why they did not do the jobs correctly leads one to ask why and we’ve mentioned a few reasons in earlier blogs.

And, if you are lucky to get Tarion to work for you, it is the builder not the trades whom they will ask to respond to your issue.  So, if you have a problem with a Mattamy or other builder’s build quality, then they have to take responsibility and can’t pass it to the trades.  Unless they want to give you all the contact info so your lawyer can deal with them direct.

And condensation on the windows – make sure you check a few things before blaming the builder.  You don’t want to waste time blaming them when it turns out you’ve been boiling spaghetti too often.

And, from my Twitters feed:

RT @atinyshift: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. ” Nelson Mandela

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February 4, 2011

Mike Holmes – not a fan of Mattamy I think.

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If you are a fan of HGTV, you probably enjoy the real estate shows like “House Hunters” and “Property Virgins” where you get to watch people in search of a home. Another show is done by Mike Holmes, who does “Holmes Inspection”. I understand he recently did a show on a Milton, Ontario family.

And he was not impressed with their Mattamy built home.

Mentioned on Miltonsearch.com, it was pointed out that this couple first had their home inspected by a house inspector recommended by the real estate company.  This is usually a no-no due to the potential conflicts of interest.  I need not say more.

The article noted that Mike found issues with the duct work in the house.  Seems that, “The range hood vented out to a location above the rear sliding doors of the home, which in itself was bad enough (vented air could easily be allowed to enter the home again through that door) without the fact that it was also covered up by the exterior siding on the home”.

Not stopping there, Mattamy was also able to accomplish another feat of craftsmanship. 

“The dryer caused an even larger issue. The flexible exhaust line travelled through the ceiling of the garage and had become disconnected, blowing a massive amount of lint and moisture into that area over time, coating everything in cobweb-like lint, water and of course, mould. Not good. Even worse, the lint had also built up around a couple of pot lights and could easily have started a fire — not exactly what this, or any family wants to hear.”

And do you think Mattamy stopped at that point.  No, they planned in a real future disaster.  Something that would probably occur after the warranty period was over. 

We all know that water flows downhill and seeks any way to do that.  We also know that pipes fail, especially those rubber fittings we use on our washing machines.  A laundry room is expected to be a little damp and one wonders why anyone would put a laundry room on the second floor without ensuring there was a drain for accidents.  I mean, the person who does the laundry certainly loves that 2nd floor laundry room – beats the first floor or god forbid, a laundry room in the basement.  Yes, back in the day, laundry rooms were usually in the basement, close to the drain.  A pipe bursts and most of the water goes for the drain and only damages that which is between the source and drain. 

Unlike our 2nd floor marvels of modern house design. 

But then, whats a little water damage to the 2nd and 1st floor and maybe the finished basement.  That’s what you have insurance for, isn’t it?

What, you think I’m being an alarmist?

The writer of this story on Mike Holmes and the Mattamy mistake found out the hard way. 

I can’t say it better than she – “Coming from someone who has a second-floor laundry room — and a major flood which stemmed from that laundry room ($75,000 damage — thank you Mattamy and your cheap, faulty laundry sink tap sets), that was a nice touch.”

And a few people think I’m the only one who was shafted by Mattamy.

For the whole story, make sure you visit MILTONSEARCH.COM
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March 7, 2009

Nothing like a good video to show the truth

The following are a collections of videos placed on YouTube by some of the less than fortunate owners of Mattamy Homes.  It is obvious that the quality is less than desirable.  In all fairness, these could represent other builders but my experience with Mattamy Homes shows that they really don’t care.  A little thing like putting my children at risk with illegal wiring is really not worth talking about in Mattamy’s book, nor the Town of Oakville. 

Comments by the owners go with the video at YouTube.

So, get out the popcorn, pour yourself a drink and enjoy the movies.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fc3cpUZMGJ8&feature=related

and

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ooJy0FxUWUQ

Ottawa Kanata fiasco – sold homes without the final approval to build

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ReMvYzAP24Q&NR=1

noisy vents

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFlCJaOhBqo&feature=related

mould

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ph4YaZ-r5Rk&feature=related

poorly built stairs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fq32SFEAtcQ

botched balusters

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