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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July 26, 2013

Can Peter Gilgan of Mattamy or Town of Oakville tell us why they don’t support house inspectors?

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When I started this blog, my intend was to warn people about building practices that could hurt their health and pocketbook.  This was before Mike Holmes got big on the landscape.  A lot of people thought it was sour grapes but, through word of mouth, the internet and court cases people began to understand that not all was it seemed in the ads.  Highly respected builders such as Mattamy were found to be criminals and environmentally non-friendly (construction on land coated in human waste and building illegal berms on rivers to name two items) and Tarion was shown to be less than supportive of the consumer.  This has been backed up with recent reports in the Toronto Star.

As I said, people thought my blog was due to sour grapes but, many have now found out that it was not bullshit.  My advice on house inspectors has gained favour and I don’t think it will be long before hiring a house inspector to monitor the construction of your new home will be commonplace.  Someone to help the building inspectors do their job, unlike that done on my house.  I will be responding to the Town of Oakville soon with a project I will undertake to assist the Town of Oakville building department.  It appears they will only respond when a builder states they are ready – I haven’t received any news of pro-active action on their part.

You will notice that people have commented on my blog – people who have been shafted by builders, poor municipal inspections and less than supportive warranty programs.  Some are not even given a warranty.

Remember – make sure your purchase team includes a good real estate lawyer and a house inspector.  And document everything in writing and with photos.  You can trust the builder but, if he shafts you, nobody will help you.  You need the evidence to prove your case.

Think all is peaches and cream in the building industry?  Past comments have shown builders not only shaft the homebuyer but their own trades.  They cut their profits and less than honourable trades will keep their profits by doing shortcuts on your home.  Ask yourself – why do builders and municipalities not want a homebuyer to have a house inspector?  Maybe their fear the accountability it will bring.  Maybe billionaire Peter Gilgan can tell us why he doesn’t like house inspectors, considering he tells the world he builds a good house – but quality not mentioned in the ads – just fluff stuff.

Here is a comment that stresses why we need a house inspector.

“Consider yourself lucky, i just saw a friend of mine who yes worked at mattamy, he recently quit his job after he couldnt handle covering things up. he is in talks right now with his lawyer because he was forced to sign a no disclosure agreement in order to get his final paycheck. he had to quit after he recently discovered black mold inside a house that had a small child living inside, and was told to just cover it up. its not the first time something like this has happened and it will not be the last. the foundations allow for so much water penetration that after you have either saved a large amount of money or taken out a loan that your basement development one day down the road will 1 hide the problems and 2 allow for things like mold and insects to flourish inside your new home.
 Sadly mattamy pays out a lot of money to keep their name out of the negative press and instead buys into things like “JD power and associates” so they can put a nice sticker on their trucks and trick you into believing you are getting at least minimal code for your house. as canadians we like to believe that we have so many great things out there to protect us from things like this but sadly when you read the fine print you actually find out that warranties are there to protect builders from having to truly deal with the problems and most of the time in their meetings it is either “we will catch it at final” or my personal fav “we will catch it at the 1 year”, then by that point they are doing damage control and will never fix everything and still leave you thinking they are coming back.
 Its good you did some research before you decided to make a large investment, unfortunately you have to rely on word of mouth of people to find the truth. people like mike holmes are figure heads for what is going wrong in the construction world. he went to the states to help out some flood victims yet there are people in his area that are being put into the poorhouse trying to recover from the worst possible investment they ever made. plus at the end of the day who pays for what he does? usually a second mortgage and a small amount of product placement.

i know it seems like a rambling rant but seriously it was so bad here i had to quit the company i had been with for over 8 years because i couldnt handle seeing things getting worse both with the people they hire who have no experience in construction to manage the people building your future home and the terrible “craftsmanship” itself. for me it was seeing a house get siding rushed onto it 3 days before the home owner moved in 1 month after i had finished my job, the sparkies hadnt even started by the time i was done. and add in the fact the house was not wrapped with any kind of moisture wrapping. do you think there will be future mold issues in ever exterior wall?
 it just pisses me off and thats why i write on here and many other sites, i just to try to help possible home buyers.”

Joshua 

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May 27, 2013

Have you been shafted by Mattamy or another builder? Welcome to the club.

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This posting is # 593.  My blog first started so that I could inform potential buyers of homes of some of the issues they might have.  I use Mattamy as an example as I can give personal knowledge of the issues I have had.  I also use Mattamy as I can show the facts and counter the bullshit advertising one reads in the newspapers regarding builders.  Interesting how few, if any, negative articles are done about Mattamy Homes, especially in the Toronto Star.  They won’t tell the truth or issues about one of their biggest advertisers but have no issues spending months trying to show the world the mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford smokes crack.  To be honest, I don’t give a rats ass about Rob Ford but I do have issues when builders are allowed to put children’s lives at risk.  Mattamy puts in illegal wiring that bordered on criminal negligence and the Town of Oakville brushes it off.  Just like the Toronto Star, Oakville depends on the largesse of Mattamy and its owner, Peter Gilgan.  Hard to get town hall to implement measures to protect the taxpayer when it relies on mega donations from Gilgan.  I’ve seen movies about this kind of relationship – and I thought it was fiction.

But, Mattamy isn’t the only bad boy out there.  There are more examples, some of which I have printed here in my blog but, it seems that warranty outfits like Tarion and municipal governments fail to really address the problem.  My one recommendation of allowing the potential homebuyer to hire a house inspector to monitor the build of their house has been stomped on by the Town of Oakville and the Ontario government.  Why?  The Town of Oakville stated it can’t (but it is bullshit as they could implement under their responsibilities of ensuring the build is to code) and, Ontario stated it would cost the homebuyer money.  Duh!!!.. So do upgrades and both would be optional.

Interesting sidebar is that Kevin Flynn was a member of the Town of Oakville council when my idea was drummed out-of-town and passed on to the province.  He was shortly thereafter elected to the provincial level and, as an MPP, failed to do anything at that level when I passed it on to him.  He did not push for it to happen, even though he had passed it to the province for action.  He is the same MPP that kept his seat in Oakville when the Liberals cancelled the power plant at a cost of $310million in order to win the election.  They don’t worry about the cost to the taxpayer in order to save their seats but, when asked to pass a regulation to protect homebuyers, they balk as it MIGHT cost the homebuyer money.  And, we elect these people to look after us.

I think some people have the idea I am the only one Peter Gilgan has screwed to the wall.  Sorry to say, I’m not.  Oh, there are those who get the flowers and those who say nothing so they can resale their Mattamy Home and not be liable due to a non-disclosure of issues.  Speculators don’t want anything said as they are in for a quick kill and don’t really care that the family who buys the home might end up with issues.

Well, here are some comments I received.  The truth is out there and some people don’t mind sharing it.  Food for thought and maybe hiring a house inspector to monitor the build might be a good strategic strategy.  Otherwise, welcome to the club.  You will find that politicians and developers work very well together.  Sometimes though, we wonder just who benefits.  Donation anyone?

Politicians and Developers Wor$ together.

Politicians and Developers Wor$ together.

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3.I guess I will add to your list of total dissatisfaction with my own tale of woe. We purchased a Mattamy Home in Bracebridge in May of 2010. We have had numerous calls to what they deem to be Customer Service. The basement leaks, we can’t use the expensice shower upgrade in the master bedroom and we again need a window replaced. I would never again entertain a thought of buying a Mattamy Home. A first year trade student could do a better job and a grade student would probably have better communication integratey.

Comment by Jennifer – April 2013 — April 29, 2013 @ 1:51 pm | Edit This  | Reply 

2.7 1/2 years later I have a leak in my roof and Mattamy basically told me to go F$$$ myself. Tarion is part of the problem as well. How do you get better warranty with a car then a house. I had a roofer go up on my roof and was told I had a leak from day one because the guy mattamy sent up cut through one of the shingles. My shingles have been shrinking as well so I have gaps everywhere, so plywood is expose. I thought shingles had a warranty as well, oh thats only if they are crumbling apart. I recommend anyone who buys a house of Mattamy think twice because the obviously do not care about their customers.

Comment by J — May 14, 2013 @ 8:32 am | Edit This  | Reply 

25.We live in Ontario Canada…..our Mattamy home sucks the big one. Both Mattamy homes we had. First one our roof leaked right through to our basement took 4 months of them ripping out flashing and not resolving the issue until I found a contractor who told me what the issue was…no flashing…DUH… Our second home…wow from 3 months in shingles falling off and 5 years  After still falling off…sorry not covered due to the act of god wind storms…BS shitty shingles. Had to have a roofer up there to replace them and since then haven’t come off and our vents were not installed properly allwing moisture to accumulate.  Spent a ton of money to get our spare washroom snaked because they were dropping grout and cement down it and caused damage to pipes…sorry you should of told tarion…we did they gave us the run around oh these are energy efficient toilets they don’t flush as much as others…so ur telling me my PiSS ways a ton and I’m SOL of it..nice.

And now our windows have condensation building up between the panes of glass that’s causing black mold…I’m still waiting to hear what they will say, but I will be out of $$$ on this one too I suspect.

DO NoT BUY…they’re all nice for the first .30 days until they badger you to give them 100% on their customer service survey….do not fill it out until they fix your problems. And even then tarion doesn’t do shit cause their BFFs with the builders…bunch of BS so pissed

Comment by Mars — April 20, 2013 @ 9:55 pm | Edit This  | Reply 

26.I have looked at Mattamy homes in Airdrie and talked with a few owners in the neighbourhood.  Apparently after the home sale is complete any construction defects and enquiries are ignored by the company.

Comment by Anonymous — May 9, 2013 @ 4:55 pm | Edit This  | Reply 

I have found so many little issues in our Mattamy home. On their own, it’s trivial, but added up, the sum is just stupid. From suspected insulation issues around the living room bay window, master bedroom overhang, and garage, to hot air that just won’t reach the farthest room in the house (the master washroom) that results in a freezing master, to odd air flow where the upstairs can’t be cooled in summer. Wicked condensation in winter on ALL windows in the house that can pool and lead to mould if not kept up on. The carpet is just disgusting- the little living room carpet was made from two pieces!!!! The seam is very obvious. The pile is so flat and pulling up at the same time. The mortar in the bricks is like sand in some isolated areas. Caulking is already deteriortating and the house isn’t even 10 years old! The casement windows are a bitch to open and close and are already showing signs of falling apart. The spalling (spalling???) cement along the parimeter of the porch has all but crumbled away. I just had to replace the sump pump that comes on maybe 6 times a year. The yard landscaping is like a lumpy field of little hills.

All and all, I would never buy a Mattamy (or Devonleigh) or possibly other cooky cutter home from a large developer again. I really think basic workmanship is pissed away for speed. And it’s funny because this is the LARGEST purchase a person will make in their lives, and we have NO real way to get these mistakes corrected.

One person in our community had the wrong bricks and colour put up. Mattamy offered them something like 10000 in upgrades, but refused to let them out of the contract for the house, or correct the bricks. And really, that’s BS because of how much money we pay for homes. I give someone $350000, and I expect what I pay for.

But home consumers have zero rights in Canada.

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October 26, 2012

Builder strikes another blow against TRUTH? What do you think Gilgan?

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You’ve bought your new home and patiently awaited it being finished.  May be on time, maybe not, or as some have found out, it can actually be built before the due date.  Hopefully without any shortcuts.  Some people move into a house that is in relatively good shape – few minor scratches etc but, the house of their dreams.  Others move into the “House on the Haunted Hill“.  I know, I suffered that scenario – including the goons.  Just gave me a decorating idea for Halloween.  🙂  Got any spare “Mattamy”  T-shirts Peter?

Unless you are really up on construction, walking through the house during construction really isn’t that good as you probably do not know what is code or not.  Most people don’t.  That is one reason I promote hiring a PROFESSIONAL house inspector to monitor construction – something builders like Mattamy won’t allow.  Just ask when you buy it.  If they say yes – bonus.  Have one do the frame walk with you though.  That would be worth the money.  They don’t have to talk to the builder – just write a LEGAL document of assessment.  Will protect you later when the ceilings start to cave in and, you/house inspector brought up the problem during the frame walk.

For those who receive a house in less than perfect condition, make sure you follow warranty (builder, Tarion, government) deadlines and document everything.  For those unable to get warranty – U.S., document everything and notify your lawyer for possible future action.

And, be civil in the beginning of all the negotiations.  As they say, honey works better than vinegar. But protect yourself by following all the rules.  Let the builder be the one who breaks the rules.  And, don’t let them stall you beyond the deadline dates.

For some, the builder is less than honest and you find yourself fighting for everything that was contracted for.  By the way – quality is not contracted.  MINIMUM CODE IS.  Quality is something you might have to sue for in the end.  Honest and respectable builders will correct quality issues.  Some don’t.

They use other tactics.

They don’t like the truth coming out and if you go public, you might experience the bully boys and lawyers.  With Mattamy, I got the full dose.  More on that later.

Recently I received some disturbing information from a homebuyer.  Seems their builder screwed up the structure and it was shifting.  They tried to deal with the builder directly and I am suspect of just how it is being fixed.  Myself, I would call in an independent assessment by an engineer to protect myself when I sell it.  Kind of like buying a used car and going to the seller’s brother-in-law for a mechanical assessment, if you just depend on an engineer bought and paid for by the builder.

This homeowner had enough of the builder and decided to go public with the issue on a public forum.  Got the usual advice, comments by those also shafted by this and other builders and, those who got the perfect (survey anyone?) house.  For some reason, those without issues think the rest of us are bad people.  What, afraid your palace will lose value because the builder shafted the rest of us?  Short-term speculators hate it when we tell the truth in public.

The forum was active until today – taken off the internet by request.  Hmmmm.   One wonders if the owner was threatened or offered a deal.  Hopefully a deal was reached.  I understand the builders lawyers were crawling out of their holes on this one.

In my case……. I got two bully boys come over to me and flexed their muscles.  Hey, I feel good it took two of them to come over.  One Mattamy technique.  Fortunately, they saw the error of their ways before I had to call in Chuck Norris.  Even Peter Gilgan, owner of Mattamy showed his temper side.  Not as quiet a person as he as led us to believe = there is some fire there.  After that he went to the high paid help – lawyers.

Now, for those bringing out the truth, expect to meet these mouthpieces.  They don’t care that what you are saying is the truth, they will threaten you with libel/defamation.  Try and hit you with the “BILLIONAIRE” has money tactic and can bury you in legal costs.  Remember, part of his wealth is from doing shortcuts.  Just ask me – made a fortune of the shortcuts on my house.  And remember, lawyers don’t care about the TRUTH.  They only care about what their client thinks.  They are paid to “twist the truth” to their client’s advantage. Lawyers do not equal truth – just argued opinion.

For those who are frustrated with their builder and have tried all and any methods to get justice and decide to be more public – picket, put up signs, hand out information packages and, do a blog – remember one thing.

STICK WITH THE TRUTH.

Fortunately, although some builders don’t understand the concept of truth, you can’t be sued for libel if you stick with the TRUTH.  And, if the lawyers tell other people you are lying let them know that the libel/defamation threat works both ways.

I feel sorry for the homeowner who gave me the information and has withdrawn his public stance.  I can only hope he and his young family get justice from their builder and a safe home.  I know I never did and the Town of Oakville still owes me an apology for their part in the illegal wiring issue.  No, I am not holding my breath on that issue.

On another related matter, I notice that Mattamy is sprucing up the old sales office on Dundas Street – maybe for their new Oakville “Preserve” development.  I feel kind of warm and fuzzy that they are making the place look good.  I’ve been there to hand out information packages and look forward to being in front of this newly painted facade.  Will make a good photo-op.  And, for the record, I WILL NOT go on your property.  Hate to think anyone would actually think I was part of the organization.  I only wish you had done this in better weather.  My last foray out in freezing weather, I almost froze my tootsies off.  Maybe you coud build a small heated guard shack for me at the entrance Peter = show some good community spirit.  I don’t mind if you name it after yourself – “The Peter Gilgan Protest Shack”.

P.S.  Seems my Windows 7 and IE9 are in a bit of conflict.  Not all letters show up from the keyboard.  A known conflict.  So, any spelling mistakes are a combination of me and Microsoft.  🙂

 

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March 10, 2011

Mattamy obsession? – Bracebridge might not think so.

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Someone did a search on homebuilders and found my blog.  Appears they feel I am obsessed with Mattamy and wonder why. 

 Well, I will be the first to admit that I do focus on Mattamy but my information could pertain to any builder in terms of problems and workmanship.  I use Mattamy as they seem to be the ones with the most problems over a broader geographical area; operate with a certain arrogance that precludes doing the right thing when found wrong; have a proven record of either breaking or skirting the law in order to conclude construction; allow shortcuts or cause shortcuts to happen that reduce the quality of the built structure; have been accused of “padding” the Customer Satisfaction survey results with gifts, etc; have not been shy about using bully boys and yelling lawyers to get their way; and, guilty of environmental crimes and putting children’s lives at risk. 

This is the short list.

So, yes, my blog does tend towards Mattamy as I do have the facts to prove the issues that a new homebuyer should be aware of when researching the purchase of a new home – probably the largest investment they will make.  Knowing that a large established builder can be guilty of these issues, only makes the purchaser that much more aware when buying a home from any builder.  They know what to look for and, know that a professional house inspector can help them in this endeavour.  I hope that addresses the comment made.

And speaking of issues and Mattamy.  I think most people are aware of the issue in Bracebridge with Mattamy.  It would appear that they are the only company having this issue there. 

Short story – Mattamy builds houses in Bracebridge and the basements leak, along with poor flood control of the area.  Bracebridge demands and gets a security deposit for future repairs.  Mattamy wants it back and says all is well in Mattamy land in Bracebridge and produce engineers to prove it.  Fortunately,the elected representatives of the taxpayer decide to see what Spring brings and keep the deposit.

How bad is it?

A recent story at CottageCountryNow.ca shows that the elected officials were smart to keep the money. 

“The first sign is the icy puddles and cracks on Pheasant Run and the second is the “for sale” signs dotting the subdivision.” 

Methinks that the Mattamy engineers aren’t seeing the whole picture.  One thing you hear about Mattamy is that their homes sell cheaper than the competitors.  Now, we know that Billionaire Peter Gilgan is not selling homes cheap for the good of the plebs in our world.  He wants to sell and make a profit.  How does a homebuilder undercut his competitor when labour and materials are probably the same?  You might use unskilled and cheaper labour to make the build but materials are materials.  Another way is to buy the land cheap.  But in a sub-division, all the builders are buying land so how do you get it cheaper?

One way is to buy sub-standard land – like swampland.  In Cambridge, Mattamy wiped out a significant wetland to get cheap land.  In Ottawa, they wanted to terra-form flood areas and got caught.   Would those homes have been problematic in terms of flooding if Ottawa had allowed them to be built? 

In Bracebridge, according to the article, they built in a problem area – thus cheaper.

“According to Mattamy resident Bud Leonard, the drainage issues in the subdivision are nowhere near a thing of the past.  Nothing could be further from the truth,” he said. “Didn’t anybody check with the homeowners?”

It wasn’t long after residents began moving in that complaints about flooded basements and excessive water buildup on the roads began to surface.”

“Last week Ron Walton, town engineer, confirmed that the municipality is aware of the situation.

“There’s a large area of rock that drains through that area and has created significant icing problems,” said Walton. “It’s an area that’s between the developed phase of the subdivision and the undeveloped phase. It’s a natural drainage area where the infrastructure just isn’t in place yet to capture it.”

Yes, I know the area and it is rocky and would be hard to build on.  If the builder wanted to save money and undercut the competition, they would buy the cheaper land.  But, if you do so, there will be added expenses to ensure people aren’t flooded out.  But, maybe the builder doesn’t want to spend the money to do so as the houses will not be able to compete.

They are also concerned about the large cracks running down the street. 

Although Brent Carey, Director of Communications for Mattamy feels there has been some communication with all concerned, at least one resident isn’t happy.

“Leonard, however, alleges Mattamy has been ducking the problem. He said it’s time for the company to step up and finish what it started. It’s not the town who will end up paying for this, it’s the taxpayers,” he said. “Mattamy isn’t getting any more of my money.”

Much like the battle in Halton where Mattamy didn’t want to pay the proper development charges for infrastructure.  They had money to shut down worksites, bus in a plethora of tradespeople and pay for a large advertising campaign but, no money for the Region.  Guess they are trying to save money in Bracebridge.  I’m glad that the town council for Bracebridge is sticking to their guns.   It would appear no other builder is causing problems there (all areas have been approved) so, I guess it is time for Mattamy to bite the bullet and do the right thing.

A new experience I know Peter, but maybe you’ll get a warm fuzzy feeling by doing it.  Won’t help your billionaire status but those lesser unfortunate people who trusted you and paid big money for a dream house, might at least come out of this with a good feeling.  Either that, or there will be more “For Sale” signs up.

Obsessed – who wouldn’t be if they had to deal with Mattamy?

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March 1, 2011

Hey Mattamy – Real builders earn it – not buy it.

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Recently read the following at a webpage called: “Ottawa’s Newest Homes“.  It was supplied by Mattamy.

“Promising a quality new home (and every builder does) is, somehow, too easy. Here’s what we promise instead. Craftsmanship. Service. Fit & Finish. And, that we’ll be working both for you and with you from the first planning choices to the final inspection.

One thing you can be very sure of. We will listen hard to your thoughts, needs, concerns and desires. And then we will build accordingly. The most important thing we do is build the home you’ve dreamt of to provide the memories that ‘home’ brings.”

Yes, promising quality is “too easy”. 

Just read the Mattamy ads and the Mattamy webpage.  Proof is in the pudding as they say.  Illegal (code) electrical wiring, flooding basements in Bracebridge, and other issues that have been documented here and other places kind of shows how Mattamy looks at quality.  All mouth and no action – unless you are on the survey list.

 Here is a company that has banned one house inspector and makes it hard for other house inspectors to accompany the almost owners of the Mattamy houses.  I say almost as they have only paid the down-payment and have to suffer the PDI and pay the rest before it truly becomes their own.  I am sure if they owned it from the beginning, we would see a better quality product.

But, how does Mattamy solve the “quality” issue.  In terms of the “warehouse” homes in Milton, I think some people left (?) and we see that Frank Cairo left Mattamy in the Ottawa area for greener pastures.  But, how will Mattamy really solve the problem of quality.

What else – go after a true winner in quality.  Someone recognized by quite a few honours.

In 2003, Monarch became the first recipient of the Ontario Home Builder of the Year Award bestowed by the Ontario Home Builders Association – a distinction determined largely through an independent survey of home homebuyers. Beginning in 2003 and yearly since then, Monarch has received the Consumers Choice Award from the Consumers Choice Institute of Canada for excellence in Business Services. This award is also determined by surveys of consumers and business people. In 2007, Monarch was the proud recipient of the Ottawa regions J.D. Power Award for excellence in customer care. (Link)

AND:

The Monarch Corporation was named Home Builder of the Year as the builder who is setting the standard for the rest of the industry by excelling in quality, service and customer commitment. The award is based on BILD’s independent survey of Monarch’s homeowners. As an elated Monarch president Brian Johnston quipped, “This is the Oscar equivalent of best picture.” (Link)

Why am I bringing up Monarch?  Seems that the latest news is stating that Mattamy is looking at buying into quality. 

“Mattamy Homes, Canada’s largest new home builder, and U.S. builder Meritage Homes Corp (MTH.N) are bidding on some or all of Taylor Wimpey’s U.S. and Canadian divisions, said a source with direct knowledge of the bids.. . . . . . .Taylor Wimpey is selling Taylor Morrison, which is based in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Monarch Corp, based in Toronto.” (Link)

Herein lies the problem.  If Mattamy buys Monarch, will they keep the Monarch team in place to ensure quality or, will they cut them lose and just use Monarch’s reputation for a few years. 

Kind of gut it in terms of quality. Like the Wall Street moves you see in the movies.

Will they allow the Mattamy way to infiltrate the proven quality of Monarch?  Will we see illegal wiring, building of homes on land fertilized with human waste or, the building of illegal berms alongside rivers?

Who knows?  But, we will keep an eye on this to see if those awards that Monarch achieved will be thrown away and replaced with the somewhat tarnished awards Peter Gilgan has accumulated over the years.

Sorry Monarch but, I guess business is business.  Some people earn a reputation for good quality over the years through good service.  Some just pay for good advertising and ignore the plebs who complain. 

Too bad quality isn’t in the Mattamy dictionary. 

Your Monarch team probably can’t survive in that business atmosphere.

 

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February 25, 2011

Who do you trust – Not the Municipal Inspector

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You read something like this and one asks:  Will it ever change?.

“Some days I dispair, and this is one of them. I continually see significant deficiencies and report on these during my inspections. I had calls from three clients this week about problems with getting the builders to resolve issues as reported. In all three cases, I had to suggest that the home owners talk to the city’s building inspectors. Why? The builder response in each case was that the city “approved” the construction, therefore there was no problems. “Approval” apparently means that the building inspectors didn’t catch the deficiencies. Sort of like saying the police approve of speeding because you weren’t caught speeding.”

That was posted by a professional house inspector in a forum that speaks of builders, Mattamy included.  I see things have not changed.

In my own case, I attended my PDI, which was accomplished in a house without electrical power.  I noted the furnace was working and a permit affixed from the Town of Oakville stating the furnace was alright.  Yes, it was working but it was wired to a locked house next door via a piece of cable (not armoured and intended for inside use only) that stretched from the furnace, through a hole in the basement, across a walkway and into the other house via a hole. 

Only positive thing was that I wasn’t paying for the electricity to run the furnace.  I don’t know – is that theft?  Should have started up a grow-op with the free power.  🙂

Anyways, when I brought it to the attention of the Mattamy rep, he told me it was legal and pointed to the permit.  Yeah, right.  Unfortunately, I knew it was illegal under the code but, I’m not a professional electrician and therefore who will listen to me.

The Building department director later, in writing, informed me it was not legal and he would not allow a house to get an occupancy permit under these circumstances.  But, Mattamy did manage to get the sale approved.

So, just because there is a permit or the “Municipal Inspectors” say it is right, doesn’t mean it is right.  That is why you need someone on your side like a house inspector.  They may not get things changed but, when it comes to legal recourse, you will have more weight on your side and maybe, just maybe, you will win.

I could claim that the municipal inspectors were taking a little “mordida” but, unless it is either with video, audio or eye-witness, hard to prove.  Although, on some forums, there are contractors who have come out and stated there is some going on.  Why a house would be given the OK in that condition leads one to wonder why. 

Who knows? 

But then, Mattamy and Peter Gilgan did donate money to Wellspring while the investigation was going on.  But, donations aren’t illegal are they.

So, make sure you document everything, have a house inspector and a good knowledgeable lawyer so that when something happens, you have documented fact to fall back on and the boys (& girls) who know how to use it. 

Unless the judge is also in on it, you might stand a chance to ensure no loss to yourself.

Don’t count on the municipal inspectors to look after you.  Your house may not even get inspected – just the floor plans.

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February 24, 2011

Who do you believe – the builder or Health Canada?

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Awhile back, I tested my home for RADON and got a bill of health on that point.  At least my Mattamy home isn’t bad that way, although you should see what we are finding while doing a bathroom reno (leaking).

As late as November, 2010, Health Canada put out an advisory that you should test your home for radon.  Why?

“At just the end of last year, Canada’s Minister of Health, Leona Aglukkaq, released a statement to the press implying that at the end of their first year of conducting the survey, it had become apparent that many Canadians are in danger from excessive radon levels in their homes. The number of homes across Canada with unsafe radon levels is 7% so far, which is much higher than the government had originally predicted.” LINK

Now 7% doesn’t sound like much does it.  Try and increase the taxes by that much and you’ll see a different perspective on that number.

For those living in homes with basements ( I guess the hi-rise Condo owners are out of the woods on this one),  we have always been told that cracks in the basement are normal and a part of the settling of the home.  Of course, we are all nervous about cracks in the basement floor, especially if you decide to cover them.  How do you monitor if they are getting larger and, you only find out about them leaking when your carpet is a bit mushy and smells?

But, here we have Health Canada stating the following about RADON:

“In the open air, the gas doesn’t pose a health risk.  But it can enter a home through dirt floors, cracks in concrete, joints and basement drains. In enclosed spaces such as basements, the gas can reach levels harmful to health”. 

Further, they recommend that you :

  • Increase the ventilation to allow an exchange of air.
  • Seal all cracks and openings in foundation walls and floors, and around pipes and drains.
  • Renovate existing basement floors, particularly earth floors.
  • Install a radon removal system using a fan and piping to draw the radon from under the home and expel it outside. This is typically done by a contractor and is the most common and effective method of reducing radon levels.

So, on one hand, you have builders like Mattamy saying don’t worry about the cracks and that if they get to a certain size, they will deal with it.  They seem to be concerned about water but, as we know, RADON is colourless, tasteless, odourless and undetectable to a person unless tested with the right equipment.  We know that Mattamy and other builders probably don’t install removal systems so, who do we believe?

Someone that wants to save money and make a profit or, the Federal government? 

Well, I hate to say it but, we know both can have problems with credibility but, it appears we are playing Russian Roulette with our health here.

How bad can it be? 

“Last year, lung cancer claimed the lives of 20,500 Canadians. It’s estimated that about 10 per cent of lung cancer deaths are related to long-term exposure to residential radon,” Canadian Lung Association president Heather Borquez” said in the release.

From a lawyers point of view, the number is probably well within acceptable death standards for the building industry.

So, next time your builder, like Mattamy, tells you not to worry about the cracks, see what they say when you bring up the RADON word.

Like many of the complaints you have read about here in this blog, Mattamy and some other builders will probably shrug it off.  They can wait for you to die from the RADON

Cheaper that way. 

And, as we know, Peter Gilgan probably gets a tax deduction and free publicity when he donates money to the hospital – maybe he should direct it to the Cancer ward. 

P.S.  I do applaud the donation but I do question the possible strings attached.

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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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November 19, 2009

Edgemere – going, going, almost gone

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Awhile back I put out a blog concerning Mattamy owner, Peter Gilgan’s Edgemere Estate, a 5.7 hectare site on Lakeshore Road in Oakville.  It was listed for $45 million but had a fire sale at $35 million.  Maybe that is why the people of Milton are being asked to fork over almost $8000 in Development Charges for homes they bought from Mattamy.

Anyways, Edgemere is the “largest, original undivided estate in Oakville, with 1000 feet of shoreline”, according to the Toronto Star.

It was bought by developer Marc Hewitt, who wants to build 30 estate-type condos in 10 buildings, while still keeping some of the heritage buildings on the lot. (gardener’s cottage, stable, tea house  and boathouse)  For this I thank him – the preserving of the heritage buildings that is.

Mr. Hewitt of course wanted the waterfront to increase the value of these condos, which will start at a modest $3 million in loose change and range in size from 2000 to 5,400 square feet.  (Gilgan’s 15 year old palace was 32,000 sq.ft. – I guess not paying full share of the development charges in the past allows you to build bigger)

The paper reports that Mr. Hewitt will “dedicate a 15 metre wide linear strip of waterfront park and connecting trails to the town“. 

DEDICATE!!!!!

Sorry boys, but he had to give it up to the Town of Oakville as there is a by-law which states that if an estate is broken up for increased density, the waterfront must be turned over to the town.  Not maybe; not a gift; not dedicate but,  MUST TURN IT OVER

Mr. Hewitt, in the kind of Peter Gilgan “I am donating” mode, did manage to squeeze some more density out of the land instead of going to the OMB and arguing.

Shame to see this hunk of land get carved up for some rich condos but, at least the Town saved the waterfront from developers looking to make a buck and skirt the law. 

I guess the ghost of past shady practices still lives on the old Mattamy estate. (do we hear – illegal wiring?)

I’m glad that a former mayor of Oakville had the balls to ensure this by-law was passed and that the people of Oakville will not see their waterfront destroyed by developers, like in Toronto.

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