The one thing about publishing such a popular blog is that there is serious responsibility that comes with doing so.
I only blog about things that I feel are important and that is usually about how one-sided the Condo Game really is.
You don’t have to take my word for it.
The best thing that anyone contemplating buying a condo anywhere, is to just go to my home page and watch CBC’s “The Condo Game”, Marketplace’s “Condo Crunch “, “Toronto Life Magazine . . . “Trouble In Condoland”, and you will have a virtual wealth of knowledge and understanding of the magnitude of this problem.
Of course my blogs don’t hurt either!
My blog delivers optional remedies to “tweek” certain areas to hopeful reinstitute some credibility into Condoland.
After decades of discussions and debate we finally saw an “update to the Condo Act” (a seriously outdated and biased piece of legislation in itself) that it has been said will be implemented “some time over the next two years”.
Isn’t that just “more of the same old play“.
It is obvious that “consumer protection” sits way down on the Province of Ontario Government’s priority list.
What I’m getting at is that I’ve become unpopular to many in the industry while becoming well known to and appreciated by consumers (but not well known enough to legitimately make a difference) especially those buying homes in condominiums in Condoland but also those buying detached homes as well.
You can rest assured that they are intending to put some well-meaning bureaucrat in charge and as the song goes “and the beat goes on“!
Consumers will see no meaningful protection as the updated Act is nothing more than window dressing to keep consumers at least convinced that there is something for them out in Condoland.
And Condoland’s problem are endemic and systemic!
In other words, the apple is rotten to the core.
This flawed structure has led to Condoland being full of “self-destructive buildings” with no-one contemplating the cost of replenishment that is built into the specs of the Window Wall suppliers material!
I recently published pictures here simplycharles.com of buildings presently under construction where these Window Walls are being improperly installed.
Specifically, as you can see in the photos, I’m told that it is improper installation to have aluminium bracing material (that holds the Window Wall onto the building) in contact with “curing poured concrete“.
The threat being corrosion from the resulting “chemical reaction” these two materials meeting.
There is supposed to be an “insulator“, (which is observably missing in these photos) isolating them.
Ontario’s multi-billion dollar a year “Construction Industry Underground Economy” thrives in Condoland, where buildings are allowed to be build on “a lowest bid contract basis” and where there is “no licensing of trades people required“!
This rather long winded introduction to today’s blog is to express that “I tell it like it is” and that gets to a proven “touchy subject” with those who turn to me and the power of my blog to make their case to the world (1.6 Million Active Viewers/month).
When consumers approach me alleging that they have been shortchanged or negatively affected in the purchase of a home, I’ve always been the first one there to try to help them or at least shine a little light on the options that they have.
I understand law fairly well (having fended off numerous threats of Civil Litigation without ever hiring a lawyer to represent me) and I’ve always said that “developers are getting away with murder in Condoland and that I know where all the bodies are buried“.
And I always, always “tell it like it is” on both sides whenever possible.
So, here we go.
I was recently approached by a consumer who had purchased a detached house from plans (“pre-construction“).
According to the purchaser (a lawyer), “when the house was delivered the plan had become modified“.
All Agreements and promotional material always stipulate that “anything and everything” (pretty well) “can change“.
The key change was that the front entry porch ended up
encroaching the City By-laws and was not allowed to be included.
A dispute or disagreement arose between the buyer and builder over stone columns that appeared on the artist’s renderings of the home.
In particular the grand entryway into the home (a distinctive “architectural feature“), the location of gas and electric metres, an a window appeared to be missing, were issues supporting this legal dispute.
The home owner was suing the builder and asking the court to “Grant an Abatement” (holding hundreds of thousands of dollars from each of two other homes that the builder had sold).
The purchaser, a lawyer boasted to me that they had pursued some rather strange legal procedure called ” Ex Parte Motion” whereby the home owner files a ‘Motion’ with the court and the Court accepts the complainant’s argument without disclosure to or from the defendant” (seems ethically distorted to me but I’m not a lawyer).
You don’t even need a lawyer, but a chimp in a suit would see that “you had better have your facts straight” (whatever that means in a fight).
On being given a copy of these filings, by the consumer and having read through the Plaintiff’s Affidavit (sworn testimony), I did what I do, which is to truthfully report through my blog about this significant issue to consumers.
I contacted the builder, to be sure to have his side of the story, and to insure that I always deliver “honest balanced reporting” to my readers.
The builder emphasized to me how hard he had tried to resolve all of the issues (that he physically could resolve) “with this particularly challenging and hostile lawyer” (his words).
He told me that they and the owner had come to an agreement of re-doing the front entrance way (resolving the Municipal government’s challenge), and that he volunteered to move the gas and hydro meters to the other side of the house despite having no responsibility to, and that there was only one remaining “contentious issue and it was something that he simply cannot accommodate this buyer with“.
So, I then spoke with the consumer whom had approached me for my assistance, and they confirmed that the entrance way issue was “settled . . . not completed, but settled“, and the meters were being moved without cost.
Now, I’ve always found that in any fight, especially one that is on its way to a court room, the only thing that can be relied on is printed material stipulated as being accurate by both parties.
Judges don’t go for “he said-she said, I said-you said” kind of disputes.
I’ve said for decades as a motto: “believe nothing that you hear and half of what you see” and that applies to life in general.
So I undertake to do my own due diligence. I confess to being frustrated over my lack of formal education and dozens of people have told me that I would have made one dynamic litigator (including adversarial litigators in matters in which I have prevailed).
The only remaining unresolved issue, according to the buyer was a “window” that would apparently be at or below grade along the front sidewalk of the house.
The builder’s position is that “there was never a window contemplated for that area“. The artist renderings show a “faux window” (artificial window) similar to that shown in another unit’s black line.
The builder, in an attempt to settle with this buyer, has agreed to install the faux window without cost to the buyer”despite it not being reflected in the black line either in the sales brochure or the architectural drawings”.
The consumer’s position is that “there is no faux window. It is ‘clearly’ a real window“! Now, I’ve learned that a when anyone with a law degree says “clearly” it is an indicator that they are “distorting the facts”.
If a collar of something was blue, for example, and a lawyer tells you that “clearly it was green” then you can rest assured that they are trying to cover up something.
This is the education you don’t get in school folks. Lawyers come in all sizes and colours but truth is not their objective when it comes to litigation . . . . “distortion of fact is”!
I’ve fought with enough of them over my four decades at exposing unethical developers and builder to understand the difference.
Don’t get me wrong I respect most lawyers but as with any profession, there are good ones and bad ones. I’ve only ever used them in the litigative arena twice and both of those lawyers ended up going to jail for having criminally stolen from their clients!
I actually feel bad for litigators, most of whom have to discard their ethics and honesty to get paid. I’ve been attacked more times than I can count by lawyers who are comfortable outright lying for their clients, for money!
I find this particularly offensive to watch them prostitute their profession by lying, as I would give anything to me educated and be able to practice law.
My education comes solely from real world experience and despite dozens of this cross section of unethical litigators that I’m forced to deal with constantly trying to “shut me up” by using the law” as a weapon against me, simplycharles.com has remained strong (I don’t even get paid for doing this!).
The buyer’s stated position would be easily proven or disproven, so I turn to the floor plans published in the sales brochure and request a copy of the architectural drawings
And sure enough, the faux window does not even appear on the black line of the Plaintiff’s home in either the sales material OR in the architectural drawings registered with the Municipality.
In contract law, I would rest confident that this black line is what a judge will rely on, as it would represent “materials used to influence the buying decision“.
There are other versions of these “black line drawings or black lines“, some of which are called “architectural drawings” which are submitted to, and approved by, the Municipality.
They show “literally” what must be (what is “approved to be“) built on that site.
The floor plates in the architectural drawings don’t show me a “window in that wall either“.
I then turn to the “elevations” pages of the architectural drawings where I read that the wall into which the consumer interprets there to be a “window“, is actually a “solid brick 2 story wall with the void area of the block 90% filled with sound attenuating materials” (according to the architectural drawings).
Further on the “elevations page” I observe heights for windows, stops, etc. and “no mention of a second window in that location“.
On page four of the architectural drawings there is a “detailed explanation” regarding this wall: “BLOCK WALL – 190 mm (8″) hollow concrete block – void to be min. 90% filled with sound absorptive material in the form of fibre processed from rock, slog, glass or cellulose fibre on each side“.
It appears clear to me that there was never an intention to install a window into the area of dispute.
A unique counter argument presented itself to me when investigating further. I discovered an email between the City building inspector and the owner of the home which said “The architectural drawings were not revised to relict this change” (talking about the front porch having been removed). That would leave 0.08 m (3″) in which an architectural feature could project without encroaching“.
I was saddened following having done this detailed research as a courtesy to this consumer, this consumer chose to attack me by alleging that I was somehow “working on the builder’s behalf” and that “it clearly is proven in the architectural drawings that there is a window supposed to be inserted into that wall“.
Nowhere in the brochure does anything mention, refer to or physically show a window being inserted into that “sound wall” (a window would nullify the effectiveness of the sound wall).
So, it will be very interesting to see where this goes in the court. A chimpanzee in a suit could see the “three card monty shuffle” here!
The ex parte motion was successful, tying up hundreds of thousands of the developer’s dollars from two home sales.
It seems abundantly clear that there never was intended to be an actual window.
A rendering artist showed the architectural detail of a “faux window” but the builder did not include that architectural detail into the finished architectural drawings that were submitted to, “changed but not updated by“, and approved by the Municipality.
We also have an email from the building inspector, explaining “a change to the proposed site plan that reduced the projection of the front porch so that it would be 1.5m from the flank age property line. The Architectual drawings were not revised to reflect the change . . . . . that would leave 0.08m (3″) in which an architectural feature could project without encroaching“.
From this email exchange it appears obvious to me that there was an intended “architectural feature of up to three inches, allowed to project from the front of the building“.
As always in court, everything remains to be proven, but always remember that courts of law rely on “evidence” and in this case, the evidence appears to be abundantly clear.
The consumer (a lawyer) is confident to move this forward in the courts, but I don’t see the merits of the claim, but then I’m not a highly educated lawyer.
I guess we’ll have to wait and see how this works itself out through the courts.
I’ll let you know.
To me, it’s a obvious as “the nose on your face”!