Oakville Homes

November 13, 2013

Want to write a complaint against Mattamy or any other builder. Follow Roseman’s advice.

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I read a very informative column in the November 13th Toronto Star Business Section (B2) written by Ellen Roseman, a writer on personal finance and consumer issues.  I have copied it below as it is a very good article if you wish to lodge a complaint in public against a contractor, builder, developer or any business.  A lot of businesses want you to put POSITIVE reviews on various websites, some to the point of throwing extras at you (which can make any review somewhat suspect).  Some builders have been accused of winning awards by stacking the deck with freebies, good service, etc and have received good reviews.  Some people have written they regret giving these positive surveys as the good service and freebies disappeared once the survey was in.

These surveys are a two-way street and so are the websites builders want you to go to and put in a good word.  It also allows those of us shafted to speak the truth.  Some builders will use bully boy tactics and lawyers to go after those who speak the truth.  They don’t bother those who lie and put in wrong reviews that make them look good.

I myself have experienced the bully boy and lawyer treatment.  I had one Mattamy Homes lawyer yell at me in a truly unprofessional manner.  If I had done that at work, several agencies would have cut me a new one.

We all have the right of freedom of speech but it does come with some responsibilities.  In my case, I’ve spoken the truth and I am sure Mattamy Homes really doesn’t want the whole thing brought out into public – thus the gag order.  I am limited.  If you wish to put forward your displeasure, there are various avenues in which you can exercise your right.  A recent article in the Toronto Star notes that NDP MPP Rosario Marchese (  rmarchese-co@ndp.on.ca ) is trying to introduce a new bill that will correct some of the unfairness some experience with Tarion.  He states that “Ontarians deserve and need meaningful consumer protection on the largest purchase most of them ever make – a new home”.  Hopefully he will get the support he needs.  Why not email him and let him know the taxpayer in Ontario supports him.  I only wish they would pass legislation that would allow new homebuyers to hire a professional house inspector to monitor the construction and protect their interests.  The present system does not really give us the protection we need.

Below is Roseman’s column.  She gives good advice.  Just tell the truth.

Note:  Any Mattamy lawyer who feels I have not stated the truth, let me know and I will consider any complaint from you.  Just don’t use the Bully Boys again – they might upset the neighbours.  Also, for the record, I am not NDP and therefore not pushing or supporting Marchese for re-election but, I have to give him KUDOS for doing something our Liberal and Conservatives (who get money from the developers) have not done.

Nasty online reviews can lead to lawsuits: Roseman

If a company gives bad service, you might write an online review telling others to stay away. Make sure your comments are factual.

By:        On Your Side,        Published on Tue Nov 12 2013
You hire a contractor after seeing good reviews online. But when the work doesn’t measure up, you write a review warning others to stay away.

Be careful what you post. Bad reviews can result in retaliation.

If the company you target for criticism thinks you went too far, it may respond by posting nasty comments about you. It may call your home to harass you. And it may threaten to sue for libel or defamation.

I recently heard from a Toronto couple, who got into an online war of words with a contractor that escalated into the equivalent of a nuclear meltdown. The dispute was about a $400 repair job.

“We paid what we thought was a fair price and we got very poor service,” said the 2,000-word review they posted at several websites, giving the firm a rating of half a star (out of five stars).

The contractor responded by calling the review a toxic and aggressive rant, which served no purpose other than to cause damage, and saying it would litigate if the review were not removed.

The threat worked. The couple cut the review to 30 words, saying they had an unpleasant experience, felt intimidated at times and didn’t plan to use the company’s services again.

That wasn’t enough to satisfy the contractor, who posted another comment next to the revised review, saying the clients had mental health issues and wanted to get the job for free.

The online war turned into a phone war. Company representatives called and left several voicemail messages, saying they would come to their home with lawyers and the whole police division.

“I am scared and feel at my breaking point,” says the wife, who considered taking down the revised review, but decided not to give in to threats.

“This is a pretty extreme case,” says Monica Goyal, a lawyer who deals with HomeStars, a website where customers can leave reviews about companies (and where the couple’s original review was posted).

Her firm is working with HomeStars to help ordinary people understand the difference between a negative review and a defamatory review.

“A high quality negative review is one that informs other members of the community about your experience with a business,” says Goyal’s firm, Aluvion Law.

“A review that is defamatory exists mainly to express how angry or upset the reviewer feels and to damage the reputation of the business.”

The lawyers say consider five things before writing an online review:

  • Wait before you write.

Emotions run high after a bad experience. Let your mind clear and your anger abate before posting comments. Otherwise, you might say something you regret later.

  • Watch your words.

What you write online can be seen by anyone. And if you contradict yourself, writing one thing online and then denying it, this can be used against you in a court action.

  • Be honest and fair.

Don’t use malicious or hurtful statements against someone else (such as liar, crook, thief or fraudster). Don’t write anything that you can’t prove in court.

  • It’s about you, not them.

Focus on what happened, using your own perspective, and don’t use your experience to make generalizations about the company. “I was not happy with the service” is better than “they are known for ripping off their customers.”

  • Stick to the facts.

Provide concrete details that are hard to dispute: “The crew was supposed to start at 8 am, but didn’t show up until after 2 pm.” Quote specific promises that the company did not fulfill, such as cleaning up the dirt left behind at your property.

Corporate bullying does exist, says HomeStars president Brian Sharwood. He wants his content team to start flagging companies that systematically harass clients who post bad reviews.

So, here’s a warning to those who think a negative review is a substitute for going to court over a small dispute.

Make sure to write a review that is factual and fair. Angry online comments can lead to litigation, an outcome that you had hoped to avoid.

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

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October 13, 2011

Donate large and they will listen. Right McGuinty and Hudak?

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Politics….. don’t you just love em.

A kind of necessary evil I’d say.  We need strong leaders to ensure that our communities grow in a positive manner – a lawful manner.  Some people get involved in politics because they truly believe they can make the community a better place to live and bring up our children.  Some have been proven to enjoy politics as it is a place to build their fortune on the backs of taxpayers.  Some, like the Mayor of Mississauga, have been accused and found to be guilty of bending the law a bit in a manner that most see as not proper.  Not necessarily illegal, but improper.

I’ve spoken on donations to the political cause in the past.  In the recent Ontario election, according to a National Post graphic published Oct 5th, 2011, the top three donating sectors were: Construction Industry (1.5m), Unions (884K),  Real Estate Developers (700K). (January to September)

I would think this kind of money gets a bigger voice than mom and pop donating their measly few dollars to what they think is a good cause.

Construction donation:     Conservatives almost 800K, Liberals 600.5K and the NDP 39K.

Unions: Conservatives 57K, Liberals 475K and the NDP, interestingly – 352K

Real Estate Developers: Conservatives 500K, Liberals 215K and NDP 28K

People are free to donate money to any party they wish but it is interesting how in the last municipal election, 43% of donations in the Greenbelt area  in 2010 came from developers even though some candidates elected to not accept these donations. From the report, this quote:

“Developer dominance of municipal political contributions is destroying irreplaceable farmland and natural areas” said Dan McDermott, Director of Sierra Club Ontario, a member group of the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance. “The result is more low density sprawl at the expense of human health, our quality of life and the democracy we cherish”.

The recent investigation into Mayor McCallion’s activities show just how slippery this slope can be.

As you know, I tried to get House Inspectors legislated into the house purchase – any honest builder would not mind a house inspector monitoring the build, nor should an overworked and honest building inspector department of a municipality.  But, it was stopped at the Town of Oakville council level and at the Provincial level.  Seems, too many interests who donate money would have been affected.

And, how much do these guys give.  In the big picture, each can only give a maximum of $9300 during the year – something the average taxpayer can’t match.  And, once an election is called, they can give more to the cause.

Take Mattamy Homes as an example.  Back last February they gave $9300 to the Liberal Party, with a further $7910 come the election.  The Conservatives only got $4800 up front.  But remember, the PC party under Hudak was getting good polls at the start.  They got a further $2450 at the close of yearly donations and a bonus $9300 for the election.  Mattamy I guess, was hedging its bets.  I am sure others did the same and you can compare developers at this link.  There is a caveat to these statistics.  They do not necessarily record all the donations given to a party as warned by those studying the issue.

Also, if you read my October 10th Blog titled: “a dangerous psychopathic personality who led the conspiracy”  Builders friends?” you will see the danger of not only big donations to political parties but also potential links to people with this kind of personality influencing our elected officials.  Some having links to the developer community.

And, some of our elected officials are very open in accepting these donations.  I’ve personally seen the result of donations and politics and the issue of the taxpayer getting the shaft.

In the grand scheme of things, we are small fish in the barrel and having people look after our interests in the building industry isn’t high  for those getting the donations from developers.

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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 requirement 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.

August 4, 2011

Big Boss Hog and the Provinicial election. Taxpayer loses?

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One can sometimes predict the future if the information flow is good prior to the event. We all know that the developers, well, at least Mattamy, are not too happy about the Development Charges (and Planning Act and Green Energy Act maybe) and, on a few occasions, they vented displeasure.

Halton was a classic example of “Big Boss Hog” coming to town and expressing his opinion at a council meeting, along with a horde of uninformed lackies who had a holiday from the job site.  Kind of like Burl Ives in “Big Country“.

Recently, BILD celebrated yes celebrated, the developers win in getting the somewhat suspect and APPOINTED OMB to lower the Development Charges that were put forward at the behest of the taxpayer by our elected officials.  So much for the DEMOCRACTIC process we are so proud of but can’t seem to make it work.

BILD is the organization that awarded Mattamy – “Home Builder of the Year”.  Somewhat of a surprise as J.D. Powers and Associates dumped Mattamy due to construction, quality and environmental deficiencies. We can see just where BILD and Mattamy stand in terms of the taxpayer and elected process.

Now, as our provincial election looms on the horizon, we are starting to hear all sorts of promised CRAP from our candidates and incumbant elected officials.  We the voter know, that most is just pie in the sky, meant to entrap the less knowledgeable of us voters into voting by our heart and not our brain.  Look at the promises thrown out in the last provincial election and what has really happened?  And, please, don’t kid yourself.  The NDP and the Conservatives would not have made good on their promises either.  There is always the excuse – we didn’t know just how bad the finances were.

But, there are election promises and there are ELECTION PROMISES.  There is the public version meant for the masses and then there are those promises made to the supporters – donations.

Fact of life.

What we should be viewing is how the donations are going.  Who is getting what.  (LINK)

At the moment: (I’ll use Mattamy as the example but a view of the list shows a plethora of developers, etc putting out big bucks)

Liberals:              $9300

Conservatives:   $4800

Green:                  $Zip

NDP:                     $Zip

Considering Peter Gilgan’s son is in the Federal Green Party, would have thought he’d throw some money that way but no.  But then, considering the environmental record of Mattamy, I can understand the Green party would probably throw it back.

With the NDP – Mattamy uses a lot of non-union labour.  Nuff said on that one.

At the moment Mattamy is pushing for the Liberal’s with the donations but, as we get closer to the finish, if the Conservatives look like they are going to win, I can see a shift in tactics and maybe a large sum of support going to the Conservatives.  Maybe too close to the finish for it to be recorded properly and viewed by the general VOTING public.  We all know how Mattamy support kind of spoiled a certain municipal election.

I must say that the Liberals haven’t totally destroyed Development Charges, nor the Planning Act or Green Energy Act.  The Hudak Conservatives have already shown a dislike of some of these more progressive statutes that seem to favour the taxpayer.  Big Boss Hog wants less on the development industry and more on the taxpayer.  I am sure his donations will speak for him and he will try and get a more favourable tax base for the developers.  Can’t blame him in one respect – business is business and, you don’t become a millionaire or billionaire worrying about the little folk.

Carnegie built libraries but he allowed a town to be flooded and thousands killed.  All comes down to optics.  How will the donation field look near the end of the campaigning?

We’ll see.

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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 requirement 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.

June 3, 2011

Brigette DePape and I have something in common – protest will do nothing.**

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Today, Brigette DePape, a Canadian House of Commons page, achieved her dubious 15 minutes of fame and the adoration of all the left wingers who are making a career of being anti-Harper, by walking onto the Senate floor holding a red “Stop Harper” sign. The colour is probably appropriate considering all the Marxist supporters who are Tweeting like mad on this one. Although I may have some empathy for someone who is totally frustrated with the political system ( I had the same for the Liberal Party and NDP) and wants to express themselves, she took advantage of her honourable position as a Page to put forward a personal view. I find it interesting all the left wingers are supporting this while they condemn the police for their G20 actions. Maybe the Police were just using their position to let others know what they felt about the Black Bloc. 🙂

But, this blog is not built on making a lot of social or political comment, except to point out those failures which seemed to sometimes benefit builders and I use Mattamy as an example.

I used the system to complain about the illegal wiring that Mattamy had put in my house – wiring that put my young children at risk. But, it seems no one really cared.  I complained officially with the Town of Oakville and yes, they did send out someone to do a report on the matter but, I never saw it nor did it ever come to council. The person who did the report alluded to the fact that it would not been seen by anyone, except the Mayor. The Mayor, she was very democratic you see. 🙂

Yes, Council allowed the complaint to follow the usual channels, hoping it would go away. Even the Mayor came to one meeting, something I understand was rare. She tried to cut me a new one but, I guess she forgot I was used to dealing with lawyers. It went through the system, got to council and then was swiftly sent to the province – to die on the vine. The fact that one of the councillors who voted to send it to the province and was voted into the provincial parliament did nothing, is another matter.

So much for democratic process. And, not even an apology from Mattamy or the Town of Oakville, even though their Building director stated this should not happen. Well, it did but nothing was done about it.

So Brigette, I can understand your behaviour if you were truly frustrated with what happened.  Too bad you ruined future prospects, unless working in left wing organizations is your final goal.  You see, people respect gumption but also like to see some protocol.  How would you feel if people started to picket your parent’s place day and night and protest your actions?  It’s kind of like the graffiti  artist getting his own house done.  Mattamy, they tried the law suit and bully boy tactics on me to get rid of me at one point.  Even used a yelling lawyer.  And, I did the legal protest and handed out pamphlets.  But I did it in a public space where protests are allowed.  I tried at the Hospital for Sick Children but was asked to leave.  Poor Peter couldn’t understand why he was handed a pamphlet one moment and then some organizer snatched it before he could read it.  There were copies there Peter but if you want to see it, I have a copy I can fax you.

Well Brigette, it will be interesting what happens for the next few days but, all those who can make a change will close up and do nothing and your spot of protest will be for naught.

Make the best of your 15 minutes.

Myself, I have to live with the fact that Mattamy puts children’s lives at risk and the Town of Oakville really doesn’t give a damn.  Now, Ottawa did stop Mattamy from destroying the environment when they charged them for doing illegal landfill, etc.

Oakville got their Wellspring donation, Oakville Hospital donation and the YMCA got  their money (why did the director get dismissed Peter – I might have the answer for you).

But, no apology for me – as they say, I can go pound salt.

 

** I’ve also seen Bridgette DePage for the spelling – depends on which source.

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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.

May 11, 2010

“No such thing as perfection”

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Interesting how this title refers to a Tarion oriented article which gets published just after the NDP and Canadians for Properly Built Homes are pushing for legislation to allow the Ontario Ombudsman to be involved in Tarion issues.

Yes, we know there no such thing as perfection and I must admit, I agree with the writer, Howard Bogach, president and CEO of Tarion in the examples he used.

But, what about these:

1: Tub is slanted away from the wall and allows water from every shower to flow out of the tub. Warranty states it is within specs in terms of slope. Bad luck it slopes wrong way though.  Your problem – deal with it.

2: Over 20 nails pops per room and in every room. What happened to the promised screws???  Oh, they will fix pops but house will look like it has smallpox.  Your paint job – tough, go get some paint and do it yourself.

3: Excessive air flow through the fireplace heat vents – measurable with air gauge.  Live with it or if we fix it, it will look like it was fixed.

4: Concrete covering the brick work, excessively.  Hey, whats a little bit of concrete slopped on the brickwork in such qauntities as to be noticeable from the driveway.  Did Edgemere have concrete slop?

5: Window will not open/close and repair person states all is right.  You have A/C – no need to open the window.

6: Two tone mantel – with joints showing.  Lovely showpiece in the family room.  Kind of quality you’d obvsiously find in Gilgan’s Edgemere.

7: Roof truss not really nailed down. Hey, don’t complain, at least there are some nails doing something there.  What – hell, we don’t know but it must be code with the nails.

Yes, we know we can’t get perfection but how about close to professional.  We’re paying the freight for professional and thus deserve to receive the proper treatment. 

 Otherwise, if you won’t protect us give us the same protection you give commercial properties.  They get to hold back money until it is done right.  Maybe that might help out a bit and ensure we get it right in the first place and, if not, we get to keep the money and repair it ourselves.

P.S. I know the formatting of this page is off. The picture will not format. But then, I am not a professional webmaster and not charging someone, so I guess I can have a little latitutde. If I had Mattamy’s bucks, I’d hire a professional and expect a better looking page.  But not from Mattamy.    🙂

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May 9, 2010

Time to $hit or get off the pot folks. Support this initiative.

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I received an email recently that shows that someone is committed to doing something about the problematic Tarion issue.    We’ve all heard about Tarion issues and how this developer/builder/construction dominated agency really doesn’t seem to support those actually having to pay the fee to join – the homebuyer.  Now, for those that know me, you’ll know that I’m not a supporter of the NDP but, in this case, I have to give them kudos for joining up with “Canadians for Properly Built Homes” in what is truly a strong move to really support those buying homes within Ontario. 

I have experienced the disgusting lack of support from Tarion and I know a lot of you out there have also suffered the experience.  Read what follows and, if you can, lend your support to this proposed legislation.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Subject: Important – Invitation to all Ontarians – June 3, 2010 event at Queen’s Park

Please forward to others who may be interested.

Notice of Important Event – Introduction of proposed Bill to Provide the Ombudsman of Ontario with Jurisdiction over the Tarion Warranty Corp.

Great news for all of Ontario’s new home purchasers:  The NDP of Ontario will introduce a proposed Bill to change the law in Ontario so that, if passed, the Ombudsman of Ontario’s mandate will extend to Tarion!

All Ontarians are encouraged to join the NDP and Canadians for Properly Built Homes (CPBH) at the Queen’s Park Main Legislative Building in Toronto for this historic occasion.  It is very important that you and other Ontarians join us and show your support for this proposed Bill.  The purchase of a home is the largest purchase most consumers make, and Ontarians deserve much better consumer protection for newly built homes than currently exists.  This proposed Bill is one step to provide this.

The Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario has recently advised CPBH that Ombudsman oversight of the home warranty plan has been supported by that office since 1986 — and that position remains today by the Office of the Ombudsman of Ontario.

Date:  Thurs. June 3, 2010

Agenda – (Note:  All events in the Main Legislative Building):
9:00 a.m. – arrive and get signed in at security – ask for MPP Cheri DiNovo — ** parking note below
9:30 a.m.  – meet in MPP Cheri DiNovo’s office
10:00 a.m. – witness a news conference in the Media Studio
10:30 a.m. – attend Question Period and watch democracy in action
11:45 a.m. – lunch in cafeteria
13:00 p.m. – witness the introduction of the Bill
13:30 p.m. – end of event

Please send an e-mail to CPBH if you are planning to attend so that we can keep track of numbers:  info@canadiansforproperlybuilthomes.com  .  Thanks!  We hope to see you there! 

Please e-mail CPBH President Karen Somerville at info@canadiansforproperlybuilthomes.com  if you have any questions or comments.

** Parking at Queen’s Park can be a challenge.  You can try to park on College Street and/or the University of Toronto.  Subway is preferred – get off at the Queen’s Park Station.

— Dr. Karen Somerville President Canadians for Properly Built Homes (CPBH)

 Our Vision: Healthy, safe, durable, energy efficient residential housing for Canadians. http://www.canadiansforproperlybuilthomes.com Canadians for Properly Built Homes (CPBH) is a national, not for profit corporation dedicated to healthy, safe, durable, energy efficient residential housing for Canadians.

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June 1, 2009

Mattamy Homes and activisim- does it work??

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I recently visited the Mattamy Homes website (not banned yet 🙂 ) and read a blub by Peter Gilgan, CEO. Parts weren’t bad and I must admit I have agreed with some of their philosophy in terms of urban development. Yes, SOME is the word to stress. He goes on about New Urbanism and Urban Walk Ups, with which I may have some differences, especially when they want to count a porch as landscaping. But one part stood out in particular.

“Should you go on from here to become a Mattamy Homeowner, in my heart I know your new home will be one that you can love. As far as we know, that’s the only way to do business.”

Well, if you’ve read my blog, you must realize there are a lot of people out there who aren’t in love with their new Mattamy home.  So, “the only way to do business” is to give some the flower treatment and others the cold shoulder.  Houses without electricity, illegal (code) wiring, flooding basements and, not even a permit to be built is a way to build love for a home???        Must be Mattamy’s version of TOUGH LOVE.

Well, as you know, I was denied permission to put a classified ad in the Oakville Beaver, owned by Metroland, owned by the Toronto Star, who collects big advertising dollars from Mattamy.

So, I guess I’ll do it the old NDP, CAW, TAMIL way and burn up some shoeleather by handing out information that supports the hiring of house inspectors for new homes.  Only difference is, I won’t block the highway.  It’s already been done for me by the police for the  Downtown Milton Street Festival on June 6th.  For more information on the festival, go to this link.

In the late afternoon, I’ll be handing out pamphlets and answering any of your questions.

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