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, our model homes are now open by appointment only, and masks are mandatory as of July 7, 2020. To schedule an appointment, please contact one of our Sales Centres. You can take a virtual tour of each of our model homes anytime on our website here.
Sales Centre: Our sales centres are open as of May 30, and masks are mandatory as of July 7, 2020. Homes are available to purchase through a contactless process. Skip the line by scheduling an appointment with a Sales Representative by phone or email.
Design Centre: Our Design Centre is open by appointment only, and appointments are being held virtually. If an appointment is held in the Minto Design Centre, a mask is mandatory as of July 7, 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?
Aug 28 | 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 where possible, to carry out key activities that support home building and help prepare for and coordinate the homes that will commence once the effects of the pandemic lessen.
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, 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?
Jul 9 | 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. Our Sales Centres are now open with enhanced safety measures in place, and our Design Centre and model homes are open by appointment only, and with 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. These include having a maximum of 10 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 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. 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?
Jul 9 | At this time, our Sales Centres are open and homes are available to purchase through a contactless process. You can reach a Sales Centre Representative by phone or email to skip a line-up and schedule an appointment, and if you choose, move forward with a sale. Masks are mandatory inside the Sales Centres and Model Homes as of July 7, 2020. 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. Please contact us directly if you have any questions.
Q. Are you changing the deposit structure or deferring deposits at this time?
Apr 7 | At this stage of the pandemic, we are not making 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 that take place to prepare to submit your home’s building permit and support 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, even if house construction is not.
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 or Frame Walk appointments
- Essential Homeowner events
- 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 2020 and the first several months of 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?
Aug 28 | The vast majority of our homeowners who are awaiting keys to their new home that pre-pandemic were scheduled to close in 2020 or early 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.
All of our homeowners have 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.
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?
Aug 28 | 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 commencement of 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 are also reinstating Frame Walks and Pre-Delivery Orientations, with a requirement for masks 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.
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?
Aug 28 | 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, as we have since the pandemic was declared. These disruptions include:
- Workforce reductions since many staff are caring for children and/or family members.
- 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 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 we expect a backlog at the municipality to catch up in issuing new permits.
Q. What can I expect for my appointment to select exterior colours or any structural options that I select at the Sales Centre?
Mar 26 | 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. 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 selections.
Q. What can I expect for my upcoming framing or finishing appointment with the Design Centre?
May 21 | 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. 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, 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.
These appointments are being held virtually - over the phone and via web meeting with 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. Please feel free to browse some of the available resources here.
Q. What will happen to my Meet Your Builder or Frame Walk appointments?
Aug 28 | 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, moving forward we are resuming Frame Walks with social distancing protocols in place, provided the visit can be accommodated 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?
Aug 28 | 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?
Aug 28 | 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. Otherwise, service work day appointments will be rescheduled to take place in the future, with our team reaching out to those affected as their appointment approaches.
Deadlines to submit your 30-Day, Year-End, Second-Year and/or Major Structural Defect reports (if applicable) have been temporarily suspended by Tarion, and homeowners will receive a reasonable extension to submit forms. Learn more below.
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?
Mar 26 | 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 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?
Aug 28 | 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. As per Tarion, warranty forms or requests that were due between March 16 and September 11, 2020 have until September 11 to submit them.
Jul 9 | With all warranty claim deadlines and repair timelines currently on hold by Tarion at the direction of the Provincial government, most service work is currently deferred. However, as of June 1, we are working to proactively schedule non-complex repair work that can be conducted almost exclusively by Minto Communities staff. Skilled labour work, including items needing to be completed by a Trade, continues to be deferred at this time. Tarion has set a date for the builder repair period to resume for August 27, 2020.
Mar 30 | Tarion has announced that all warranty form claim deadlines are suspended, including those for 30-Day, Year-End, Second-Year and Major Structural Defects. Homeowners can still submit their forms to us and to Tarion using Tarion’s MyHome Portal, but please note that if you are unable to meet the regular statutory deadlines for submitting forms, the form will not be rejected for being late. Once Ontario’s emergency order has been lifted, homeowners will receive a reasonable extension to submit their forms.
If forms submitted via Tarion’s MyHome homeowner portal are automatically rejected for being late due to the system’s programming, Tarion will amend this by accepting the form as on time and a new letter will be sent outlining the next steps in the process.
Mar 26 | In light of the COVID-19 situation and the recommendations being made by the government, Tarion and health authorities, as a precaution, Minto Communities have paused all non-essential appointments as our way of helping to prevent the spread of illness.
This includes the postponement of non-emergency service appointments. We are committed to rebooking once the situation begins to resolve. We remain committed to rectifying any warrantable items in each of our homes and hope our homeowners will understand our decision to err on the side of caution and prioritize the health of our homeowners, trade partners and employee’s health by limiting exposure.
If an emergency service call is required during this situation, we will only proceed with the consent of our homeowners and after screening questions to ensure the health and safety of all present.
Ultimately, we understand that for a social distancing strategy to work, everyone has to participate to the fullest extent possible. Individuals on our community sites are frequently in contact with a large number of trades, homeowners, materials from a variety of sources and colleagues on any given day, although steps have been taken in the current situation to support social distancing.
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?
Jun 12 | The following health and safety measures have been implemented to keep our staff and trades safe on our sites:
- Social and Physical Distancing has to be maintained at all times including staying 6-8 feet (2 metres) apart at all times.
- If trades feel they cannot abide by the physical distancing guidelines, they must provide Minto with a policy which identifies how they can do so safely, including the use of additional PPE (i.e. face shields, masks, gloves, etc.).
- Minto staff are allowed to be in a house with trades provided there are ten or less people in a house, and provided they follow the physical distancing guidelines.
- Construction and MasterCare offices are closed. Trades are asked to check-in to the 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.
- Additional handwashing stations with hot water have been added in designated areas throughout the sites and are identified by signage.
- 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 to Minto, as part of our MOL requirements.
- If you have experienced (or been in contact with anyone who has) symptoms of illness, are returning (or been in contact with anyone who has) from travelling abroad in the last 14 days, you will be required to fill out an assessment form for our records.
Q. Are Minto staff still working?
Aug 28 | As of April 6, 2020, the Ontario provincial government has deemed construction activity of homes that have already received a building permit as 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 where possible, 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 spread of germs?
May 21 | In addition to vigorous hand washing and social distancing measures, we have also increased the frequency of cleaning at each of our locations, and ensured a commercial-grade cleaning solution. Our Construction and MasterCare Warranty site offices are closed to the public. Our Sales Centres are minimizing physical interaction and have enhanced safety measures in place. Our Design Centre and models homes are open by appointment only. 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?
May 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 modified working hours and/or shifts in order to reduce the number of people on 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?
Mar 26 | 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.