Canada’s largest homebuilder came under fire again this week after buyers in two Ontario communities said the company was forcing them to take possession of homes that weren’t ready.
“I’m nearly in tears,” said Jane Chu, who moved into a new Mattamy-built home in Waterdown, a suburb of Hamilton.
On Friday, Chu and others on the new street expressed frustration with Mattamy, saying their homes had serious deficiencies that should have been fixed before their closing dates.
“It’s disappointing,” said an emotional Rachelle DiPalma, who gave Global News a tour of the Mattamy home she and her husband Matt moved into a week earlier.
When they moved in, there was no sink or countertop in the kitchen; closets aren’t finished; but the most worrisome issue, she says, is a crack in the foundation wall and water in her basement.
A dehumidifier whirs 24 hours a day in the basement and a temporary patch covers the concrete where water seeped in. Basement wall insulation is soaked. DiPalma’s not sure when the builder will be able to make permanent repairs.
Another neighbour, who asked not to be identified, recited a long list of issues with the builder, who she says insisted that her family take possession even though her home also needs a lot of repairs done.
The issues in Waterdown are similar to complaints by buyers in Markham, north of Toronto. Homebuyers in one subdivision there told Global News it’s wrong to force buyers to take possession of homes that still need so much work.
In one case, realtor Azif Khan showed Global News a $691,000 home with a cracked front door frame, no working sink in either the main floor powder room or kitchen, no kitchen countertop, cracked tiles, and missing closet doors and hardware.
The 2237 square foot home had a larger issue that concerned the agent and his client. The basement was soaking wet: water had leaked in through one of the walls.
“When they (the buyer) opened the door, there was disbelief,” said Khan, who recorded a walkabout video of the new home which he posted on social media.
Another neighbour, Ricky Tong, also expressed frustration that Mattamy was insisting he take ownership of his home in spite of construction issues.
“Once they give the okay – give an occupancy certificate, we as homeowners have to take possession,” said Tong, who is also a real estate agent.
Municipalities are obligated to inspect new homes and issue an occupancy permit before a builder can allow buyers to move in. In the case of the Markham project, the city says it followed provincial laws.
“These met the minimum requirements for occupancy, there were apparently no safety concerns,” said Sara McMillen, senior communications manager with the City of Markham.
But in the face of a backlash by angry consumers, Mattamy issued a public apology.
“We take responsibility and apologize sincerely for this situation,” said Brent Carey, vice president of communications for Mattamy Homes.
“Our commitment is to make things right as quickly as possible so that our customers can fully enjoy their new home.”
Hamilton municipal officials told Global News that in the case of DiPalma’s Waterdown home, they initially refused to give Mattamy permission to close the deal.
“Our building inspector attended the property at the request of the builder to perform an occupancy inspection. The inspector denied occupancy as the result of existing deficiencies,” said Ann Lamanes, communications officer with the city of Hamilton.
“The family was allowed to occupy by the builder, despite not having the occupancy permit,” Lamanes said.
DiPalma and other homebuyers told Global News they would have preferred to delay closing dates until most of the work had been finished, rather than move into a construction zone.
Stephanie Blaney and her husband recently moved into the Waterdown development to find a long list of problems.
“Missing smoke detectors and C02 detectors in one bedroom, a basement rough-in not completed which resulted in our concrete basement floor being broken up during possession,” Blaney said in an email.
“To describe our overall experience with Mattamy Homes as disappointing would be an overwhelming understatement,” she wrote.
Mattamy says it “came up short in a number of cases” this year.
“The building challenges faced in the Toronto region this year have been greater than any in recent memory—this includes land development approvals, an uncommonly rain April and May as well as labour and materials shortages,” said spokesperson Carey.
Mattamy Homes was founded in 1978 by Peter Gilgan, ranked by Forbes Magazine among the 30 richest Canadians with a net worth of $2.1 billion (U.S.).
With Files from Lucas Di Rocco and Tyler Thornley