Looks like Mattamy Fairwinds Phase 5 is done!

This post may seem completely out of context for this blog and it is indeed.  However I am writing it because the other blog I ran, mattamyfairwindsphase5.wordpress.com was taken down about 18 months ago.  I feel that it is important for purchasers of homes from Mattamy in Fairwinds Phase 5, the few that remain, know why.

This is a long story but it’s necessary for everyone to see it in its entirety since the aforementioned blog was taken down.  In May 2008 I plopped down 25K, yes Twenty Five Thousand Dollars, on a new home being built by Mattamy in Kanata.  In early August we got a letter from them stating that construction had been delayed due to permit issues with the city of Ottawa and the province of Ontario.  By the way our original closing date was March 3rd 2009, if memory serves me correctly.  Upon receiving the letter I of course immediately called Mattamy for further information from their sales office/front line PR person.  She was a very pleasant young women who could offer me no more information and I did feel sorry for the position she was in as I imagined she was getting inundated with calls.  During the conversation I asked her when Mattamy would be providing up a follow up letter and she stated most likely sometime in October/November.  I was a little put back that they were not going to provide me, the customer, any more information for another 3 or 4 months while my money was sleeping in their bank account.  So I suggested to her that perhaps they could start a blog to provide at a minimum weekly updates, or hold an information meeting in short order, something at least.  The young women said that was a good idea and would feed it up the food chain.

So a couple of weeks went by and nothing happened, it was now late August and I happened to be on holidays for a week.  So the wife and I decided to take things into our own hands by initially starting a blog and a group on FaceBook.  We did this for about a week and then my wife suggested we contact the media as it would make a good story and perhaps we could get some traction from Mattamy and the city of Ottawa that way.  So on the Thursday we were on CJOH then on the Friday we were on CBC and also got a write up in the Citizen.  This resulted in Frank Cairo, vice president of Mattamy, calling me directly to set up a meeting.  He was impressed with the level of attention we had achieved in such a short period of time and wanted to come around and discuss working together.  So around came Frank Cairo along with his co-worker Susan Murphy.  A very quick back story on Susan Murphy.  She is a lawyer who used to work in the planning department of the City of Ottawa and was involved in the shutting up of a certain city water engineer who raised concerns about the planning in Kanata West.  She subsequently jumped ship from the City of Ottawa and went to work for Mattamy homes and Frank Cairo.  So along comes Frank and Sue into our backyard where we sit down and have a beer and Frank proceeds to explain the history of what has happened etc, etc, while Sue looks on.  During our discussion Frank goes on to say that it would be great to work with us, in essence we could be the public face of the issue as from his point of view the problem lies with the city of Ottawa. We of course are more than happy to oblige his concept on the proviso that he has to fill us in on what is going on at his end and we can blog about it. At the end of the backyard have a beer summit Frank and Sue shake our hands and I remind him to ‘participate’ with us and ‘use’ us to help push the city.  In other words email or phone would be required, but hell he’s a vice president and a smart guy so he did not need to be told that.  I realize now that the meeting was in essence bullshit and was just a scouting mission to see if we posed any real threat.  I think in hind sight they had a mistake in there impression.  I will say this however, I honestly did like Frank.  He was a nice down to earth guy, seemed genuine and was honestly enthusiastic about the community they where building out in Kanata. Remember, Frank was a fast riser at Mattamy.  Straight out of school he was in Mattamy where he drastically improved some of there business models, he even apparently, wrote some software to help them do it.  He was a fast mover and to be given V.P. in Ottawa was a very big step in his career, but I honestly felt he must have worked for it.

Anyways, so a week goes by and I call Frank a few times and leave a message of his cell phone but he does not return my calls.  Meanwhile, we have been contacted be a lot of home buyers and even some people ‘in the know’ from within the industry who are providing us a lot of information.  I will not say whom these individuals are as I said I wouldn’t.  By the end of week two we have arranged a meeting of homebuyers in our home on a lovely September Saturday morning.  During this meeting  we discuss what the next steps could be etc etc etc.  In the end we decide to ask Mattamy 3 options which we posted up on the blog.  These where:

  1. Allow home buyers out of their contracts if they should choose.
  2. Freeze Upgrade prices and present values
  3. Allow home buyers to switch lots to the new Barhaven community

We also wanted to have a meeting with the city planners along with Mattamy and the Ministry of the environment.  In other words, all of the players in the same room, what a novel idea!  I met with Shad Qadri, city councilor for the area and he agreed and he and his staff would set it up.  By the way Shad was great as was his staff.  In the end the meeting was set for sometime around the end of September beginning of October if memory serves me correctly.

Meanwhile, my calls to Frank had gone unanswered after numerous attempts.  Finally one Friday afternoon after calling him numerous times on his cell phone I got a little frustrated.  So I left him a message that went along the lines of ‘Frank, if you do not call me back I will be forced to continue my conversation with W5”. 5 minutes later RING! Hey Frank, how are ya!  I cannot honestly remember the context of the conversation as I was too busy laughing inside my head at how fast my message had elicited a return call.  Perhaps it was only chance that he called back immediately after that message, who knows, but certainly by this time I was feeling a little jaded about Mattamy’s behavior. 

The following week we had another piece in the paper run as we wanted to keep the pressure up.  One Friday afternoon while at work I received a phone call from my lawyers secretary.  She informed me that my release form from the Mattamy contract was ready for me to sign.  It took me a few seconds before I said ‘what?’  The secretary then proceeded to tell me that Mattamy had decided to release me from the contract sighting a comment by my wife that we wanted out of the contract.  I guess she should have said we would have liked a bigger home for the same price as compensation.  Since when can you take 3rd party edited comments as the wishes of the individual who has a signed contract!  I was a little incensed to say the least as I felt like they were trying to pull a fast one and get rid of us.  So I told the secretary that I would NOT be signing and promptly hung up and went for a smoke to think for a bit.  When I got back to the office I picked up the phone and called the sales office and I said ‘Hey this Joe from over at phase 3.  I was taking to Frank this morning about some issues we need to discuss but I don’t have his office number with me, can you give it to me?’  She promptly gives me Frank’s office number.  I say thanks and hang up.  I then call the number and get the secretary and I say.  ‘Afternoon, its Joe from over at phase 3, I was talking to Frank this morning about some issues he wanted to discuss this afternoon.  Is he in?”.  The secretary says “Yes he’s in Joe, I will put you through.”, thank you I say.  A few seconds later I hear, “Frank Cairo!”.  “Hi Frank its Keith Chadwick calling how ya doing!”.  This was followed by about 5 seconds of silence then finally a begrudging “hello Keith”.  The conversation went on where I explained to Frank that you cannot use  3rd party reports in the media as a means to push me out of my contract.  Let’s not forget that this offer had NOT been made to any other home buyer.  I wish I had recorded the conversation as I had the ability to but did not think of it at the moment.  Two comments of Frank’s from that conversation have stuck in my brain every since and probably will until I die.  These where:

  • I don’t think you are a Mattamy type person!
  • Every time you write a blog post it’s like a stab to my heart!

After the conversation I sat a little dumbfounded for a minute then shook my head vigorously and turned to my coworkers and told them what had been said.  They were as stunned as I.  First off, when I signed the contract there was not a personality or aptitude test that could be used to help in defining me as a ‘Mattamy type person’.  Hell, i’m a bloody WASP, how much better to fit into tight suburbia or am I wrong.  I did not know that Mattamy looked for a ‘certain type of person’.  I will not even go into the tones of discrimination Franks statement can lead to.  The second statement is just plainly bizarre but I have had a fair amount of time to think on it.  Remember my comments about Frank earlier, that I thought he was a genuine person and honest.  I feel now that on that day I was talking to a person under an extreme amount of pressure to do things one way that went against his own personal views.  This type of work environment can really kill you so in retrospect I do feel sorry for Frank.  However, as a V.P., those comments are inexcusable to a customer regardless of how much stress you are under.  Enough said!

So the meeting I had requested to be set up went ahead at the local Sportsplex on Woodroffe avenue.  The city was there in full force.  In fact the city brought basically numbers’ 1 and 2 from every department including legal that had anything to do with the issue, good on them I thought. I cannot remember if the MOE was there so I will leave them out of it.  Of course Mattamy declined to show.  You would have thought this would have been a wonderful opportunity for Mattamy to discuss in front of several, about 12, of their CUSTOMERS!!!  But alas, in the world of building common sense does not seem to exist when it comes to customer service.  You know where J.D. Powers can stick its award for customer service as far as I am concerned.  So, back to the meeting.  It was a very interesting experience and certainly the head legal guy, I apologize for not remembering his name, was a real pleasure to listen to.  He was the definition of saying a lot without saying much but was one hell of a smart guy.  He had a lazy eye which left me with the effect of listening to some Greek Oracle. He was indeed one hell of a smart guy.  The meeting of course was completely the cities side of the equation since Mattamy was not there for any counterpoint.  Overall however, I felt it is was informative and constructive.

A short time later I heard through the other home buyers that Mattamy had decided to call a meeting at a local hotel of all the home buyers.  The meeting was invitation only and of course they did not send us an invitation.  This spoke volumes of how Mattamy viewed my wife and I, so much for working with us!  Luckily the invite to the meeting included a guest and I went with another home buyer along with my father.  Of course we all got in, they even had a name badge ready for me but I will be honest on the way there was not sure if there was going to be a few tough’s waiting for me to bar my way.  At this point I was starting to get a little paranoid about Mattamy to be honest.

During the meeting Frank went on about how approval was underway and was not a problem and was very upbeat.  In fact during this meeting I spoke on several occasions attempting to back what Frank was saying.  I was trying to be a conciliator as much as possible.  As part of the meeting Frank introduced several options to the home buyers.  Guess what they where, you guessed it the same ones we and the other home buyers came up with and put on the blog.  The condition to resign was time based and we had until the following Saturday to sign up under the new contract which included an extra 5K in upgrades and upgrade prices frozen.  After some discussion with my wife and parents I phoned Mattamy on the Monday to inform them that I would be resigning and would be around that week to do so.  A short time later I got a call back from the sales office asking if I could come in on the Saturday to meet with Frank directly to go over the new contract. I of course said yes would love to.  I figured after my backing of him at the hotel meeting it would be an opportunity for him to say thanks and bury the hatchet, boy was I wrong.

So on the following Saturday I, with my father in tow headed off to the main office of Mattamy in Kanata to meet with Frank.  We arrived at an old farm house they were using as mission control and where escorted into the board room at the back.  After a few minutes Frank came in with a large bundle of papers with one of his sales guys in tow.  He introduced the guy as I sales guy but I half suspect he was a lawyer.  He then proceeded to go through the enumerable schedules that make up a housing contract in Ontario. Schedule A, Schedule B, Schedule C then finally schedule X.  Hang on I thought, we missed a lot of letters there!  Frank then went on to explain that schedule X was a gag order preventing me from any further contact with the media or public in general in regards to Mattamy Fairwinds Phase 5.  It also stated that anything I had said in the past about Mattamy or wrote about Mattamy was incorrect!  My father argued this point at some length as he was a bit put off because he felt I had not said anything but the truth. In fact he was correct but I said screw it, I did not care, I wanted my bloody house and if this is what it took fine, the hell with it.  The gag order was to be in place until one year after taking possession of the home.  This is why I took the blog down.  Although I was not going to write anymore, my fear was they could use its existence as an excuse/evidence that I was breaking the order.  Now interestingly I was never made the offer to take the contract back and review it although I did have 5 days to pull out.  I was told in no uncertain terms sign the gag order or no deal.  Interestingly Frank said it was because they had trouble in the past with customers going to the media etc so this was there policy.  Really!!!  I wonder how many Mattamy home buyers out there have had their traps shut with a ‘sign the gag order or no home’ situation. Of course we will never know because they are not allowed to tell you.  Oh before I forget, during this meeting I pointed out that the options they had provided where the same ones we had recommended to them at our very first meeting then on the blog after we met with those home buyers on a Saturday morning.  He said that was not true and of course I was signing to that affect, funny isn’t it!

Fast forward one year and another letter arrives from Mattamy, the first we have had from them.  Apparently more delays have occurred and now they cannot give us any closing date.  This time the options are provided right in the letter, hey they learned!  We opt for option A, time to get the hell out of this thing and get the 25K back.  So again I call them and inform them of my decision and again I, with my father in tow, head up to the Mattamy sales office.  In we go where we are asked to sit and after a short time a gentleman approaches with some papers for me to sign.  He barely says a word, in fact in general he was distasteful in his demeanor. He hands me a lousy cheap bic pen to sign the papers, makes the necessary copies and hand them back to me.  Not so much as a ‘sorry for all the trouble’, ‘sorry for the inconvenience’, not so much as a f’ing simple have a nice day.  I cannot resist so I say to him on parting ‘As Joe Pesci said in Casino to the banker, You put my fucking money to sleep you asshole’ and I left.  Not one ounce of interest on 25k over 20 months.  I did however manage to keep that lovely Mattamy pen they gave me when I signed my original contract.  I think I will sharpen the tip, put some wings on the back and make it into a dart that I can throw at pictures of Mattamy homes in the news paper.

So if you are thinking of buying a new home and are considering purchasing from Mattamy go for it.  Just be prepared to bend over and get not so much as a please or a thank you as they shove there nice Mattamy pen where it should not be!  J.D Powers award for best customer service 3 years running, give me a break, Mr. Powers must be on drugs or on the take.

Sincerely
Keith Chadwick

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23 responses to “Looks like Mattamy Fairwinds Phase 5 is done!

  1. I’m also phase 5 buyer. I’m not sure what to do. i have been waiting 14 months. now only option is get your check back???

    who is making money now “Mattamy”

  2. We were Phase 5 homeowners since June 2008. Thank you for the full story of what *really* happened. I saw you both in the news, and I remember you from the meeting.
    I’m so glad we finally smartened up, and took our money in February. We are building with Tartan now, and they are an absolute gem to deal with!
    I wanted to hold on to the “Springbanks dream” and how much money we would have made on our house, but at some point, you just have to cut your losses…

  3. Keith,

    What an ordeal! We signed with them in March ’08 and we just got out in Nov. Funny thing is, I asked them in Sept to let us out. I had enough and I had a Plan B. A house in Jackson Trails. They said “no no no, everything is on track, you won’t be delayed again”. They said this to me on 3 separate occasions. I never believed a word they said so I just waited. By the time we got our letter in Nov that we could back out, the house in JT went up $15k. It was quite the punch in the gut considering I asked numerous times to release us. I’m still pissed, as $15k is a lot of money to me but I am really glad to put this all behind us!

    Thanks again for digging as much as you did. Someone had to try and dig up the truth!

    Hope you find your dream home, Keith!

    Nancy

  4. I was in your kitchen with other Phase 5 folks on that “lovely September Saturday morning”…everything you said was/is true.

    Surprised that Mattamy thinks this will “go away”….

  5. An interesting but ultimately sad for you history of trying to buy a house. I wasn’t aware that there was a criteria for buying a home from a tract builder other than giving them a certified cheque etc…its not as if you were buying into a co-op where you need to get along with others and share a vision.

    I believe that Sue Murphy is not a lawyer and has a background in environmental planning etc. For many of us who deal with the City it was quite a leap for her to go from the environmental side of things to a developer wanting to build next to a flood plain.

    The lawyer you spoke of with the wonky eye is probably Tim Marc who is the City’s top lawyer on planning matters.

  6. Thanks Stuart that was indeed his name Tim Marc. He was brilliant. Would love to sit down with him over a beer and just listen.

    As for Murphy I find it difficult to swallow the idea of someone to switch teams. When I finish a job I have a separation agreement that stops me from working with any of the clients I had while employed with that agency for up to a year. As a city employee I feel this rule should be even more stringently applied. I checked the law society of upper Canada and S.M. is not listed, this was an assumption on my part based on some other conversations and is incorrect. That being said however, she was instrumental in the pushing out of a water engineer at Ottawa who first raised the alarm about the water engineering plans. I find this suspicious to say the least and as you pointed out this was quite a leap. This is of course all conjecture but when you add all the little things together you start to really wonder what the hell was/is going on. For instance the initial engineering firm that was hired by KWOG and its ties to the MOE. Each and every item on its own can be viewed as perhaps an incorrect perception. If nothing else though the number of questionable things that have occurred in Kanata West seems to layout out a pattern. I do not prescribe to conspiracy theories or paranoia but all of this stuff makes me wonder considerably!

  7. Hey Keith,

    At least you didn’t have to return to the sales office another 2 times (YES, 2 more times) because they kept screwing up your release papers.

    Holy hell batman!

    Rich

  8. I had heard all sorts of rumours of who had been trying to silence the City water engineer (Cooper?) but her name had never come up. He (Cooper) is like a dog who won’t let go of a bone, so I don’t think he will stopping soon in his belief that Kanata West is not a good place for housing. As you may be aware, the City is a minor landowner in that area, so they have a vested interest in seeing some return on the dollar.

  9. Agreed Cooper is certainly very dogmatic but from my discussions with him and I had many her name certainly did come up in a significant way. Mr. Cooper also stated that it was his opinion that there was nothing specifically wrong with Phase 5. So that makes you think as well.

  10. Further to that there is no reason why Kanata West could not be developed if proper engineering was put in place to ensure proper drainage and ensure that flooding did not happen again downstream on the Carp River. There have been so many mistakes out there it makes you wonder if any of these people know what the hell they are doing. This is no different than the sewage stupidity that has gone on for YEARS in this city and only now looks to be resolved!

  11. We were two of the unfortunate ones to purchase on Phase 5. We ended up signing the release letter in March and now hear rummors that the delays had nothing to do with the city, but with Mattamy only. I will do some research and see what comes up. However, I don’t think, if given the opportunity, I would buy from them again. They just don’t sound trustworthy to me.

  12. @miryelin: I would be very interested in what you find out. It would not surprise me at all if it all lay at Mattamy’s feet.

  13. Great read, Keith! Good on you for exploiting these guys and getting the truth out…one question, now that Mattamy is up again at Maple Grove calling their latest endeavour ‘Phase 5B Fariwinds’….would you recommend a potential new buyer like me to consider them- now that all the issues and hard-fought hastles are behind them?

    Seriously considering, given that the wife’s family just signed on to buy and they are offering up some pretty enticing incentives!

    Please response ASAP….thanks- Stevy Raj!

  14. Well like anything else I would really dig through that contract. Ask for an extension to review it and spend the money on a good real-estate lawyer to go through it line by line. Do NOT be afraid to ask for amendments. They will say it is a standard contract. Do NOT be afraid to add your own conditions to purchase. They are there to serve YOU so make sure that they do that. They have a habit of behaving like they are doing you a favour.

  15. Thanks Keith- Cheers! So after all this, are you currently living in a Mattamy home? How was/is the workmanship- better than expected given the ordeal you went through?

    Stevy

  16. Nope never got the home, they never started to even dig a foundation. After 18 months I got my 25K back with no interest and not so much as an apology. Several home buyers had to make multiple trips to even get there check. Each time they showed up being told it was not ready.

    The whole point of why I did this was because of really poor information from them when the whole issue started. I remember getting the very fist letter and calling them for more information. The women stated she knew nothing more. When I asked when would they inform me they said in about 6 months. I suggested to them on that very first call that perhaps they should consider creating a free blog or web site so that they could keep the buyers informed. The women said she would suggest that to management.

    After my initial meeting with Frank Cairo and his female co-worker (can not remember her name) I was told they would work productively through me to relay information out. After several weeks nothing.

    I am a positive person and always think of people in a positive way and provide them with the benefit of the doubt. If you end up on my bad side it is because you really had to work hard at being an idiot.

    The point being Mattamay and perhaps other home builders appear to have an attitude of they are doing you a favour. They play on the ‘mystic’ of a new home and the excitement that builds around it for the buyer. It is that very excitement that lulls us as buyers into complacency. So in essence we, the buyer are also responsible. However, I would but the onus on the builder to recognize this and work extra hard to step buyers through contracts, issues, explain draft approvals etc etc.

    So again as per my earlier comment. Do not go in assuming that Mattamy or any new home builder is being 100% honest with you. They may not be lying but omition of information that is or ‘could’ be pertinent is the same in my book. So when reviewing a contract go over it line by line even if you have to keep the sales person there for 6 hours and grill them. Even if they have to bring in there lawyer or engineer. What ever it takes. It is the biggest purchase of a persons life and for the money you pay they should be EARNING it!

  17. Wow, thanks Keith! I’m glad I came across your blog- it definitely did provide me with some different insights to consider! I really hope our experience will fair better, given that (i.e. altough I haven’t admitted this to my wife) I too love the layout of the home Mattamy is proposing to build along with their incentives package!
    I have contacted my real-estate agent and the three of us are meeting Mattamy’s sales rep. tomorrow!

    Cheers mate…btw, if I ever come across you at a pub/tavern- beers’ are on me!

    Stevy

  18. Wow, I’m in the same boat as Stevy Raj and am considering putting down my initial $5k for a new home in Fairwinds 5b. Curious to find out if Stevy Raj went through with the purchase

  19. Went through it…so far so good, mate! Only thing I’ll say is keep an eye on the whole process and stay involved as much as possible…e.g. visits, keeping tabs on the workers there (i.e. be friendly-like)….etc.

  20. The key word is constant DUE DILIGENCE and do not fall into the trap that they are doing you a favour. The are WORKING FOR YOU :-)

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