Minto Communities Ottawa
As a community builder, local employer and as construction professionals, the health and safety of our customers, employees, trade partners and the local community is of the utmost importance to us. This is something we prioritize on a daily basis – and will continue to – through this situation. As part of our civic responsibility, we are committed to following the guidance of Canadian and World public health experts by taking recommended precautions.
Minto Communities is committed to providing open and timely communication relevant to our Ottawa operations regarding COVID-19. Please refer to the important information below:
Model Homes: To support social distancing and reduce the risk of community spread, our model homes are closed. You can take a virtual tour of each of our model homes anytime on our website here.
Sales Centre: Our sales centres are open by appointment only and homes are available to purchase through a virtual, contactless process. Book an appointment with a Sales Representative by phone or email. Masks are mandatory as of July 7, 2020 and contact tracing measures have been implementated as of September 26, 2020.
Design Centre: Our Design Centre is open by appointment only, with a number of appointments being held virtually. If an appointment is held in the Minto Design Centre, a mask is mandatory as of July 7, 2020 and robust contact tracing measures have been implemented as of September 26, 2020. A Design Centre representative will be in contact with each homeowner to schedule their appointments when the time is right.
Q. Is Minto Communities remaining open during this situation?
Jan 14, 2021 | Minto Communities is continuing construction activity and proceeding with modified operations and protocols that prioritize the health and safety of our employees and trade partners. Office and other staff are working from home, to carry out key activities that support home building and help prepare for and coordinate the homes.
In order to prioritize health and safety, some services we offer have been temporarily suspended or altered while others, such as Sales and Design Centre appointments, are being conducted digitally or in person by appointment only and with enhanced safety measures in place, including mandatory masks in enclosed spaces as of July 7, 2020, and contact tracing as of September 26, 2020 as per the Ottawa Public Health directive. House construction involves a great deal of background preparation, planning, ordering and coordination, and in the meantime, we are committed to continue these activities safely and where feasible through remote work. This practice will best position us to fully remobilize and allow us to safely continue construction work for all those awaiting keys once the direct effects of the pandemic have lessened and government authorities deem it safe to do so.
We know many homeowners are counting on us to complete their homes and are committed to do so, even if they take longer than originally anticipated.
Q. What measures have you taken to support the health and safety of your staff?
Dec 21 | Our office staff is working remotely from home. In our communities under construction, our staff are continuing to work with enhanced safety measures in place including daily COVID19 screening. Our Sales Centres and Design Centre are open by appointment only with enhanced safety measures in place, and our model homes are closed for physical tours. We now have more information than ever before made available digitally to help our homeowners and potential customers make decisions without in-person interaction. As per the Ottawa Public Health directive on July 7, 2020, masks are now mandatory in these enclosed spaces.
On site, we have enacted measures to support social distancing and reduce the risk of community spread. These include having a maximum number of people (employees or trades) permitted in each house at a time. We have amplified hygiene protocols and provided additional hand wash stations. The closure of our site offices to Trades and the public remains in place.
Most importantly, no one is permitted onto our construction site if they have recently travelled, have close contact with someone showing symptoms or have symptoms of any illness themselves. We will continue to adapt in line with the recommendations of government and health authorities. While these measures will significantly slow construction, we are committed to this approach in order to prioritize our employees’ health and safety.
For Prospect Homebuyers
Q. I am interested in buying a new home. How are releases and home purchases being handled right now?
Jan 14, 2021 | At this time, homes are available to purchase through a contactless process. You can reach a Sales Centre Representative by phone or email to schedule an appointment, and if you choose, move forward with a sale. Model homes have been closed. Floorplans, pricing, site plans and model home virtual tours are all available on our website to browse, and you can sign up to any of our community email lists for updates about new lot releases. Virtual sales releases are planned to continue. Please contact us directly if you have any questions. You can also learn more about our virtual sales process here.
Q. Are you changing the deposit structure or deferring deposits at this time?
Dec 21 | We have not made any changes to the deposit structure. Deposits help us secure the materials that are ordered to build home, support the Engineering and Landscape design and approvals of your future community supports the installation of utilities, contribute to the various preparation activities necessary to obtain your home’s building permit and supports Design Centre selection appointments. While the pace of construction is expected to be reduced during this situation, rest assured activities pertaining to your specific home are still taking place.
We will continue to work with and adhere to any government provisions made to help ease Ontarians through this situation, which continues to evolve.
For our Homeowners who have not moved in
Our Customer Experience Team is providing ongoing updates via email to our valued homeowners as the situation changes, depending on where you are in your home owning journey. In alignment with the social distancing recommendations made by health authorities and in concert with Tarion guidelines issued about the COVID-19 situation, we have postponed, limited or modified several of our processes to help safeguard staff, trades and homeowners. We have altered and/or put additional safety measures in place surrounding the following services:
- Design Centre appointments, browsing and orientations
- Meet Your Builder appointments - Cancelled
- Frame Walk appointments
- Essential Homeowner events - Cancelled
- Pre-Delivery Orientations
- Closing day protocols (key pick-up)
- Warranty service work
At this time, our commitment is to focus on activities that are critical to construction progress and that are required to be able to give the keys over to our homeowners who are anxious to take possession of their new home.
With some exceptions, the pandemic will result in a change or delay to most occupancy/closing dates scheduled in 2021. We will continue to provide relevant updates to homeowners as they near each milestone and as the situation changes.
If you are one of our homeowners, please ensure we have your current contact information. If you have not received any updates or have any questions, please contact your community’s Customer Experience Coordinator direct or at [email protected].
Your cooperation is requested
Any homeowners who are experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms, have been in contact with someone else who has been ill or have recently returned from travel outside of Canada and are scheduled to interact with a member of our team (i.e. to receive their keys or a service work appointment), please inform your contact at Minto Communities so we can work with you to make appropriate arrangements that ensure social distancing measures are adhered to. As per the Ottawa Public Health directive on July 7, 2020, masks are now mandatory inside enclosed spaces such as Sales Centres, Model Homes, Design Centre, and for Frame Walks.
Q. Do you anticipate a change to my closing date as a result of the COVID-19 situation?
Jan 14, 2021 | The vast majority of our homeowners who are awaiting keys to their new home that pre-pandemic were scheduled to close in 2021 should anticipate a change to their closing date as a result of the pandemic.
The health measures we have already taken (detailed in the “General Questions” section of this page) to ensure our employees and Trade partners feel safe at work will likely result in a reduction to construction progress. In turn, this will mean likely changes to most occupancy/closing dates.
Homeowners who have purchased before the pandemic received notice of what Tarion refers to as an “Unavoidable Delay” as outlined in their Agreements of Purchase and Sale, specifically their Statement of Critical Dates. Once an Unavoidable Delay period has been initiated by written notice, Minto Communities becomes responsible to inform customers once the disruption caused by the pandemic is over and provide a new occupancy/closing date.
On May 14, the City of Ottawa notified builders that building permits would be once again issued, after an approximately 6 weeks pause. This created a backlog and is one of the several factors we adapted to as we strive to remain as close to our original schedule as possible.
On August 17, Tarion has issued an advisory regarding the shortage of materials and supply chain disruptions. As an established builder with deep roots in the Ontario market, we have leveraged our position to add a number of suppliers and Trades to diversify our material supply and provide backup where possible. Lumber is the new toilet paper at the moment, but we are working hard to ensure a steady supply and work with the materials that have arrived.
Homeowners who purchased after the pandemic started are subject to the typical delay clause included in their Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS), outlined in the Tarion Statement of Critical Dates.
Once construction starts on each home, homeowners will continue to receive updates by email when their home has started, when their roof is complete, and when their kitchen has been installed to help them plan for and gauge when we will be in a position to hand over keys. New occupancy/closing dates are communicated as we approach home completion and formal dates are provided once we have received all materials required to complete the home. We have opted for transparency and have provided progress updates rather than communicating an inaccurate firm closing date that may change due to factors outside of our control.
How long the effects of the pandemic continue and the way it impacts the construction industry will determine how far out the impacts will be felt. We know this is a lot of uncertainty, but are committed to keeping communication open and timely. Homeowners are welcome to reach out to their Customer Experience Coordinator at [email protected] for more details on their specific home.
Q. Are closings still happening and when will I know my final closing date?
Jan 14, 2021 | We are committed to continue to build and close homes. As our pace of construction continues to be slower than pre-pandemic as a result of the necessary health and safety precautions in place, we anticipate closings will continue to be affected, however, we are working diligently to minimize delays and deliver homes to our waiting customers as soon as possible.
We continue to reach out to homeowners on an individual basis and send construction updates to keep them apprised of their home's progress so they can be prepared to receive their keys as soon as their house is ready. With the possibility of outbreaks, the impact of the flu season, the school year, the disruption caused by the necessary additional safety measures, slower delivery of materials and a fluctuating workforce, there is still uncertainty in the schedule. However, once a home is in its final phases, we will be in a position to convey an anticipated closing date. Each homeowner will receive notice when their home starts, when the roof is complete, when we are about to start boarding/drywall and when the kitchen cabinets have been installed to help them gauge progress and proximity to being able to receive their keys. At this time, we continue to hold Frame Walks and Pre-Delivery Orientations, with a requirement for masks and COVID19 screening for all attendees, which is another opportunity for homeowners to see and ask about progress on their specific home so they can prepare for their home’s delivery. If you have any further questions, you can contact your Customer Experience Coordinator at [email protected].
Once a home is in its finishing stage, it is important for homeowners who are approaching their anticipated closing date touch base with their legal representation and financial institutions to confirm that they are able to provide all the usual documents, funds and paperwork to our lawyer. Typically, preparation for closing includes meeting with your lawyer or lender to sign paperwork. As per usual, our lawyer will make available all the documents required to close at least five business days prior to the scheduled closing.
Q. Many businesses are starting to reopen, how come my home is still under the unavoidable delay clause?
Dec 21 | Minto Communities has not yet lifted the unavoidable delay on most of our homes that were purchased prior to the start of the pandemic because we are still experiencing significant disruptions due to COVID-19, additional lockdowns and uncertainty, as we have since the pandemic was declared. These disruptions include:
- Workforce reductions - many staff are caring for children and/or family members, or taking precautionary time off when experiencing any symptoms.
- Delays to material production and deliveries due to necessary safety measures impacting the capacity of our trades and suppliers, causing a great deal of uncertainty. See Tarion’s advisory on the matter here. As an established builder with deep roots in the Ontario market, we have leveraged our position to add a number of suppliers and Trades to diversify our material supply and provide backup where possible. Lumber is the new toilet paper at the moment, but we are working hard to ensure a steady supply and work with the materials that have arrived.
- Physical distancing and limits to the numbers of people in the home during construction - house construction typically requires multiple people in a home at once and while we and our Trade Partners have adapted to this process, it does require a more sequential approach to home construction and additional time to carry out activities.
- Building permits were paused for several weeks and building inspections are coming slower due to workforce reductions at the municipal level.
Q. What can I expect for my appointment to select exterior colours or any structural options that I select at the Sales Centre?
Jan 14, 2021 | Appointments to select exterior colours or structural options (such as how many bedrooms, optional basement windows etc.) mostly apply to single family homes and homeowners who have one of these appointments will either be deferred or selections confirmed by phone, digital means or by appointment where masks are mandatory, COVID screening and contact tracing will be in effect. If deferred, it means the Construction team does not yet need the information, and if selections do have to be made, rest assured we are providing homeowners with the means to see and understand the selections appropriately before finalizing.
Q. What can I expect for my upcoming framing or finishing appointment with the Design Centre?
Jan 14, 2021 | In order to move forward with house construction and prepare and order materials, many of which are taking longer than usual in the current circumstances, we are continuing to proceed with Design Centre appointments. It is critical for our homeowners to sign off in a timely fashion especiallu during these circumstances in order to avoid further delays. To ensure our Construction team gets the information when it is needed and to simplify the number of decisions required at one time from our homeowners, in some cases, we have reverted to a process that Minto used for many years successfully, and that is to separate out the framing and finishing stages of selections. By completing and finalizing framing selections ahead of finishing, we are able to continue progress on the construction in order of scheduled closings.
Typically, we are holding your framing appointment virtually - over the phone and via web meeting. Our options and finishes now displayed online. Prior to their Design Centre appointments, homeowners will receive a package from the Design Centre outlining options and associated pricing available as well as payment option details. A Design Centre representative will be in contact with each homeowner to schedule their appointments when the time is right. Finishing appointments can be held in the Design Centre, where we have safety protocols in place, including sanitization of samples, Plexiglass dividers, mandatory masks, COVID pre-screening, and contact tracing.
Please feel free to browse some of the available resources here.
Q. What will happen to my Meet Your Builder or Frame Walk appointments?
Jan 14, 2021 | At this time, we are not conducting any Meet your Builder appointments that pre-pandemic, took place in our site offices, which are currently closed. However, in most cases we are offering optional Frame Walks with social distancing protocols in place. These visits will continue to proceed, provided that the visit can be held prior to the home being enclosed and staff resources available. This short visit will be accommodated whenever possible and masks as required as per the Ottawa Pubic Health directive on Jul 7, 2020. We are fully committed to ensuring our homeowners are kept informed through their journey and we will continue to provide e-mail notifications regarding the progress of each home. We also have a dedicated Customer Experience team who can provide updates and can be reached at [email protected].
Q. I see Trades working in homes, so how is there still a workplace/labour disruption?
Dec 21 | In addition to the material disruptions that are ongoing, social distancing and additional safety requirements during construction do result in fewer Trades in the home at a time, which often results in a slower build time for many activities. In some cases, we've developed safe and innovative ways to complete formally multi-person tasks with fewer employees. In addition to demonstrating some flexibility with working hours for employees needing to take care of children or loved ones, we also ensure that anyone showing any signs of COVID stay home out of an abundance of caution, which has impacted our workforce capacity.
Q. Why are you still selling homes if the future is uncertain?
Dec 21 | We do continue to sell homes to complete our neighborhoods and because most homes are sold between 12 and 24 months in advance. We are hopeful that the homes occupying/closing at the end of 2021 and into 2022 and 2023 will not be as impacted, however, we have set their dates with the current situation in mind and are committed to keeping all our homeowners informed.
Q. What changes are in effect for the Pre-Delivery Orientation (PDO)?
Aug 28 | As of August 27, 2020, we have begun to reinstate in person PDOs with masks required and enhanced sanitization protocols. Should circumstances warrant us returning to a virtual PDO, it will proceed as below:
- Prior to closing, Minto Communities MasterCare warranty staff will conduct a pre-delivery inspection on behalf of our homeowners, documenting any items that need to be repaired. A copy of this list will be sent to the homeowners along with a number of photos, including one of your kitchen and home exterior.
- After closing, the homeowner will conduct their own pre-delivery inspection and provide the list to MasterCare, who will submit it to Tarion. We ask that this submission be conducted within five days of your closing. Tarion is in full support of this process and will honour deficiencies identified after closing during this situation. Please also refer to Tarion’s COVID-19 memo regarding pre-delivery inspections here.
- An important part of the Orientation is the chance to ask questions and for us to demonstrate the features and functions of your new home. We will either schedule a meeting by phone shortly after you receive your keys, or once the situation with COVID-19 has improved, we will schedule a time to meet with you in your home. The expertise of our warranty team continues to be available to our homeowners.
Q. How are closings and key pick-ups being handled?
Jul 9 | As per usual, on closing day our Construction team will be in touch to confirm the time you can come and pick-up your keys, typically around 4 PM. Keys can be released as soon as we receive word from our lawyer that the transaction has closed.
Key pick-up will occur at our Construction site offices. If you haven’t visited previously, the location will be provided to you in your correspondence with the team to arrange a pick-up time. Despite the sign on our Site Office door stating the office is closed for all appointments, key pick-up is the exception. We will allow homeowners into our office one person at a time to sign the form confirming you have received the keys and then provide you with the house keys in an envelope. As per the Ottawa Public Health directive on July 7, 2020, masks are required inside the enclosed space.
Q. Can a homebuyer get out of a deal?
Mar 26 | We remain committed to building your home and as such are proceeding forward with all homes under contract through a finalized Agreement of Purchase and Sale. Homeowners still in their rescission period are able to obtain a mutual release by providing a letter from either a lender or legal institution to our sales office.
For our Homeowners who have moved in
Our MasterCare Warranty team continues to respond to any safety-related, urgent service request or emergency such as active water leaks or complete electrical power loss not related to a hydro power outage. Other appointments may be rescheduled depending on Trade availability and guidance from Ottawa or provincial health authorities.
Deadlines to submit 30-Day, Year-End, Second-Year and/or Major Structural Defect reports and the timelines to complete the work have been adjusted in light of COVID19.
At this time, all of our site offices are closed. If you have any questions, please contact the MasterCare team in your community here.
Q. If I have an emergency - what do I do?
Dec 21 | Once you have taken possession of your home, if you are experiencing an emergency such as loss of heat in the winter, a full loss of power not related to a hydro outage event, or an active leak, please call the MasterCare Emergency line at 613-782-2310.
For any other urgent requests, please email your MasterCare office here.
Q. How are 30-Day, Year-End and Second-Year repairs being handled?
Dec 21 | As of August 27, 2020, the builder repair period timelines have been unpaused and we are reaching out to homeowners in sequence to scheduled service work days to address any outstanding warrantable work that came to light during the pandemic to date. While this backlog will take some time to complete, we are committed to servicing each home.
For our Trade Partners
We have been in touch with all our Trade partners with specific information to facilitate their health and safety. This includes closing all our Construction and MasterCare site offices until further notice to help prevent the spread of illness. As a precautionary measure, and in line with recommendations to minimize social gathering, we are temporarily requesting that all check-ins to our site offices be conducted by phone. If you are a Trade partner and have not received an email from us, then please contact your site team.
Q. How is Minto Communities keeping staff and trades personnel safe on site?
Jan 13, 2021 | The following health and safety measures have been implemented to keep our staff and trades safe on our sites:
- As per the government legislation effective immediately, all Minto employees and trades on all projects will be required to wear a mask or appropriate face covering at all times when inside. Failure to do this can result in fines and MOL charges.
- Masks and/or appropriate face coverings are also highly recommended to be worn at all times when you are outside.
- All staff and trades are required to complete the legislated COVID-19 pre-screening questions and copies must be kept on record for all people on site. In the upcoming days, designated site access points will be set up for staff, trades and visiting homeowners (who have yet to occupy their home) to enter a Minto site where we will collect the pre-screening information.
- Also coming soon, the pre-screening questions will be done through our electronic pre-screening system from Stage2Data. The same pre-screening system will be posted throughout the site and on every home to help facilitate its use. There will also be paper copies available for anyone who requires it.
- Until such time when the check points are set up trades will be required to provide us with paper copies of their pre-screening responses. If they do not have them in advance of arrival, they can fill out some paper copies we have on site. Staff can continue to use the email version or paper version until the new pre-screening system is set up.
Below is the consolidated list of the guidelines we continue to have in place including a few revisions:
- Social and Physical Distancing has to be maintained at all times including staying 2 metres (6-8 feet) apart at all times.
- Non-surgical masks or equivalent PPE are required to be worn by all staff and trades at all times when inside, (includes enclosed homes under construction, site offices and vehicles if you have passengers).
- To help facilitate physical distancing there will be a maximum limit of five people at all times in each house.
- All meetings with homeowners (Framewalk, PDO, Key Pick up and closing day) staff is required to wear non-surgical masks or other approved PPE. Homeowners will also be required to answer the pre-screening questionnaire and wear masks, which we will provide to them if necessary.
- Construction and MasterCare offices are closed. If trades wish to reach Minto staff, they are asked to do so site by phone, email or text.
- Trades are asked to proceed directly to their designated home each morning instead of the site office for instructions.
- Staff and trades are to fill in sign-in sheets for each home they enter or do work in. This will assist us with contact tracing if there is a positive test and will help us isolate the area(s) in question and minimize exposure to other people.
- (Coming soon) Trades must check-in at designated check-in points and provide their pre-screening information prior to starting work in a home.
- (Coming soon) A QR scan will be posted on each house and throughout the site to facilitate the collection of pre-screening questions and answers
- Handwashing stations with hot water have been added in designated areas throughout the sites and are identified by signage.
- All non-essential meetings or gatherings have been postponed until further notice.
- Safety meetings, inspections and toolbox talks will be managed following Physical and Social Distancing guidelines and circulated/confirmed via email.
- Safety meetings/Tool Box Talks are still required to be submitted, as part of our MOL requirements.
Q. Are Minto staff still working?
Dec 21 | On April 6, 2020, the Ontario provincial government deemed construction activity of homes an essential service. As such, Minto Communities is continuing construction activity on homes and proceeding with modified operations and protocols that prioritize the health and safety of our employees and trade partners.
In many cases, we’ve developed safe and innovative ways to complete formally multi-person construction tasks with fewer employees. In addition to demonstrating some flexibility with working hours for employees needing to take care of children or loved ones, we also ensure that anyone showing any signs of COVID stay home out of an abundance of caution, which has impacted our workforce capacity.
Office and other staff are working from home to carry out key activities that support home building.
Q. What is the impact to holdbacks during this time?
Apr 15 | On Thursday, April 9th, 2020, it was announced that the Attorney General of Ontario will exempt the Construction Act from the earlier provincial order suspending all limitation periods in the Province. This will allow for the release of holdback payments to contractors and subcontractors. The exemption will go into effect on April 16th, 2020, to give the industry time to prepare for these changes. Once lifted, parties will have the same amount of time to meet a deadline that had been remaining before the suspension began on March 16th, 2020. Minto Communities will begin to release available holdbacks on April 16th, 2020, with proper documentation submitted to our Accounts Payable Department.
Doing our part
When you are meeting our staff in person during this situation, we want to assure you that we have taken measures to ensure the health and safety of employees and those they come in contact with.
Q. What measures are being taken to reduce the risk of community spread?
Dec 21 | In addition to vigorous hand washing, personal protection equipment (PPE), and social distancing measures, we have also increased the frequency of cleaning at each of our locations with a commercial-grade cleaning solution. Our Construction and MasterCare Warranty site offices are closed to the public. Our Sales Centres and Design Centre are open by appointment only. Model homes are closed. Our commitment is to prioritize health and safety and we are prepared to adopt further measures if necessary.
Q. Is your staff coming into work?
Dec 21 | Our office staff is working remotely from home. In our communities under construction, our staff are continuing to work where possible and where it is safe to do so.
On site, we have enacted measures such as PPE and reducing the number of people on a site at a time in support of social distancing. We have amplified hygiene protocols and provided additional hand wash stations. The closure of our site offices to Trades and the public has also been put in place to minimize gathering.
Most importantly, no one is permitted onto our construction site if they have recently travelled, have close contact with someone showing symptoms or have symptoms of any illness themselves. While these measures will significantly slow production, we are committed to this approach in order to prioritize our employees’ health and safety.
Q. Do you require your staff to self-isolate if they have recently travelled or are feeling unwell?
Dec 21 | Yes, we ask our employees to keep us informed if they have travelled, have been in close contact with someone who has been ill or are feeling unwell themselves. Those meeting these conditions are required to self-isolate for the recommended period to ensure no symptoms are developing before returning to work. Anyone who has travelled is self-isolating for 14 days and is not allowed at work or on site. Anyone who is experiencing symptoms is required to stay home.
Messages from our Leaders
Keeping our communities healthy and safe while maintaining our commitment to servicing our customers, remains our top priority at Minto Communities.
We understand this is an uncertain time for everyone. Through our more than 65-year history, our commitment to resilience, our deep ties to the community and our adaptability have become essential to building a thriving organization. This experience enables us to provide the much-needed support to our homeowners, employees, trade partners and communities during this challenging time.
We wish you and your loved ones good health.
Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns.