Tartan Design Centre

Table of Contents

Section 3: Outside Your Home

General Lot Grading Information

Each subdivision has an overall grading plan which takes into consideration existing drainage patterns, storm water outlet and neighbouring properties. Each lot within the subdivision will have a detailed grading design which must be installed as per the design and must be verified by an Ontario Land Surveyor. The engineer must then certify that the lot has been graded in accordance with the approved lot grading plan. Once the lot has been certified by the engineer and accepted by the City it is the homeowner’s responsibility to maintain the approved grading of their property.

Lots are graded in a manner that slopes the land away from the homes with surface water being collected by a series of swales and catch basin systems. The City of Ottawa requires slopes to be between 1.5% and 6.0%. Subdrains may be used if the slope is 1.0%. Swales are grassed shallow drainage channels with gentle slopes along the side. Swales are typically located along the side property line and rear property lines on the lower of adjacent streets and are designed to accommodate certain levels of surface run off from adjacent owners (typically up to 3-4 lots or more). Swales capture surface water and carry the water to a catch basin system – either a street catch basin or rear yard catch basin. A rear yard catch basin is typically flush with the ground and is located at low points along the rear property line. Water enters the catch basins which then drain into the City’s sewer system.

After a rain event, homeowners can expect the swales to become temporarily spongy with excessive moisture and may experience some ponding up to a maximum of 0.3m. As the water slowly drains into the storm water system, the ponding and sponginess subsides, and the rear and side yards will return to normal. The yards will typically return to normal within 1-2 days of a rain event or longer in more extreme weather events.

Homeowner’s responsibility:

Once a homeowner takes possession of the house it is their responsibility to maintain the approved grading plan. Interference or changes to the lot grading can cause excessive ponding on the lot as well as all the lots upstream from the property. Grading changes and improper maintenance can not only cause damage to the property but also to the neighbouring properties.

Proper maintenance of the lot grading and drainage system should include the following:

  • Drainage systems (swales and catch basins) should be kept free and clear of any obstructions including sheds, patios, walkways, debris etc.
  • Any settlement around the foundation or drainage swales should be repaired
  • Grass should be cut short within the swales to facilitate water flow
  • Swales should be redefined to ensure positive drainage if there is concerns with ponding
  • All new landscaping and construction including sheds, fences, walkways, patios, swimming pools etc. must take into consideration the grading and drainage system. The work must be carried out without any disruption to the system
  • Keep exhaust pipes (white PVC on side or rear of home) clear of snow & ice. If the pipes are covered by 1 snow, ice or other debris , it will shut down the furnace and hot water system. Your HRV should not be run in temperatures below -20 degrees Celsius as the intake pipes may freeze. Clean air filters in HRV, furnace and hood fan. Keep curtains and blinds open whenever possible to help with condensation issues. Wipe any condensation away from windows and doors. Remove excess snow and ice from the roof to stop ice damming and to prevent vents from being blocked. Make sure indoor air vents are clean and keep air supply vents in the basement open through the winter. Continue to run furnace fan throughout the year to improve air circulation, read furnace manual to perfonn any other maintenance. Leave bedroom doors open as much as possible to allow good air circulation throughout the house.

Asphalt Driveways

With reasonable care, your asphalt driveway will last for many years. But as an external surface that is subjected to weather, traffic and the weight of your vehicle, it is not uncommon to see minor indentations and tiny cracks, stones that flake out and uneven areas, as well as some settling under car tires and dents from sharp objects, especially during hot weather.

To minimize damage, remember that your driveway is designed for cars and light trucks. Do not park heavy vehicles on it and avoid the following potential causes of damage: oil or gas leaks from your car; high heels and bicycle stands that cause holes in warm weather, and turning an automobile’s front wheels while the vehicle is stationary.

If gasoline, paint or solvents are spilled, wash them from you driveway immediately with soap and water. Avoid chemical de-icers that can also damage your driveway’s surface. Calcium chloride is a safe alternative to melt ice on asphalt.

Should heaving or settlement result in depressions exceeding 150 millimetres (six inches) during the first year of occupancy, the builder will patch or pad the subject area, which can often include where the driveway meets the garage. Repairs will be carried out one year after paving is completed. Cracks exceeding 6 mm (1/4 inch) will also be repaired. Periodically, ground frost penetration may move asphalt areas and alter surface drainage patterns. Such damage is beyond the builder’s control but will often settle back into place when warm weather returns.

Damage resulting from movement of municipal services or other utilities is the responsibility of the homeowner and is not covered by your home’s warranty, nor are tire marks, surface stone flaking, minor cracks at edges caused by expansion and contraction or damage cause by other people using your driveway.

Asphalt may require periodic maintenance and care to prolong performance and appearance. Re-sealing asphalt surfaces may help protect the finish.

Concrete Foundations

Minor surface cracking in foundation walls is a common occurrence in new homes and has no detrimental effect on the performance of the foundation.

Cracks may appear initially at the concrete curing stage where moisture evaporates from the material and the loss of volume results in material shrinkage cracks. Minor surface cracking may also result from stresses caused by extreme seasonal temperature variances where the material encounters stages of expansion and contraction. Dampness or condensation is not considered a warrantable item. Homeowners must take immediate steps to prevent damage to their property and report any losses to their home insurance provider.


Exterior grading adjacent to the building is designed to promote surface water drainage away from the home and should not be adjusted. Where grading changes and is determined to be the cause of water penetration into the building, leaking will not be the builder’s responsibility. Homeowners can restore proper grading by adjusting soil next to the home. Many leaks stop once grades are restored.

Eavestroughing and downspouts

Tartan Homes does not install eavestroughing on its homes. Where eavestroughing and downspout systems are installed by the homeowner, water discharge locations should be checked periodically to ensure that the grade next to your home continues to direct water away from the walls. Placement of erosion control pads at discharge locations, or lengthening the ground level portion of the downspout will reduce the risk of erosion and move water farther from your home.

Eavestroughs should be kept free of debris, leaves or other material that may reduce the water flow. Do not direct the flow from the downspouts onto your driveway.

During winter, ensure water does not become trapped and freeze in the trough system. This condition could contribute to ice damming at the roof.

Exterior Caulking

Exterior caulking is an important component of the building envelope system that helps keep moisture and air from penetrating a home. Caulking is generally applied to seal intersections between finished materials, around windows, doors, plumbing, electrical outlets and other mechanical and electrical equipment projecting through the building exterior. Caulking should remain somewhat firm but reasonably pliable to accommodate minor movement of the building structure.

If caulking develops large cracks or separates from surfaces, it should be removed and replaced with a good quality sealant. Leaks through caulking after two years are not warrantable.

Exterior Electrical Outlets

Exterior outlets are installed on the outside of your home to enable you to power electrical lawnmowers, hedge trimmers, Christmas lights, etc., without the need to run an extension cord from inside the home. If an exterior outlet is not working, ensure that the circuit breaker on the electrical panel is in the ON position. If the exterior outlet continues to malfunction, and you have lived in the home for less than 12 months, contact Tartan’s service department.

Exterior Taps

Exterior taps, sometimes called hose bibs or water hydrants, are the water faucets serving the house exterior. Sometimes there is a tap located inside the garage. This too is an exterior tap.

Prior to the onset of freezing temperatures, the water fed to these taps should be shut off from inside the home at the stop and waste valve (located behind the exterior tap) near the basement ceiling space. Remove the small drain cap from the side of the stop and waste valve and store the cap for next warm season use.

Remove, drain and store equipment such as garden hoses. Open the exterior tap from outside to permit trapped moisture to drain away and leave the tap open for the cold season. Reverse this procedure in spring when sub-zero temperatures are no longer a possibility.

When finishing basements, valves and other equipment that require periodic adjustment must remain accessible and should not be altered in any way that might affect their safe operation.


One of the first projects tackled by many owners of new homes is the installation of backyard fencing. Before doing so, the following issues should be considered:

  • some development and subdivision documents contain restrictions and may include time delays to allow the developer to complete subdivision and grading work on adjacent properties. Before installing a fence, review the Agreement of Purchase and Sale together with attachments and covenants;
  • most municipalities enforce restrictions and constraints as to location, type and size of fences permitted. Again, review your Agreement of Purchase and Sale.

Lot boundaries are established and confirmed after the house foundation has been erected. The builder’s land surveyor provides a survey certificate describing the property and the building’s location on the lot. Survey markers are commonly used by surveyors to carry out their fieldwork and may or may not remain in place after the house has been constructed. Avoid reliance on any existing survey markers of any type to determine property line locations. Survey markers may have been installed for various purposes or may have been moved by grading and construction operations. To establish property lines to ensure location of proposed fencing within the property, retain the services of a professional land surveyor.

Prior to excavating, contact and obtain clearance from applicable utility authorities to avoid damaging underground services and utilities. Most utilities provide this clearance service at no charge.

Tartan Homes is not responsible for settlement damage resulting from additions to the property subsequent to the closing date.



A lawn is part of the landscaping that turns a construction site into a pleasant and habitable property but it won’t survive without your care and attention. The nursery grown sod installed on your property requires frequent, even daily, watering until the grass has rooted to the soil and shows evidence of vigorous growth. At this point, watering can be reduced to weekly depending on the weather. During warm summer months the soil should be wetted to a depth of at least 120 millimetres (five inches).

Shallow watering may result in shallow root growth, making the lawn susceptible to early drying or burning. Cutting grass shorter than two inches may also result in early drying. Avoid walking on newly installed sod when it is wet.

Semi-annual applications of fertilizer and weed control are suggested for continued healthy growth. Consult a local garden centre for information on suitable products. In spring, avoid letting snow remain in shaded areas for extended periods that could result in damage. Lawns may appear healthier in different sections depending on exposure to sunshine and other elements. Minor settlement of grades is common in landscaped areas. The purchaser is responsible for all landscape maintenance.

Sprinklers should be adjusted to keep water away from building surfaces to reduce the risk of moisture damage in the home.

Precast Concrete Patio Pavers/Walkways

Most homes are equipped with concrete paver walkways and concrete paver patios that are susceptible to minor settling as a result of ground frost penetration. In most cases of settling, affected areas return to their original positions in warm weather. If they do not, the homeowner can correct this problem by adding sand under affected slabs. Tartan Homes is not responsible for re-levelling slab walkways or patios after the initial installation.

If affected areas do not return to their original positions, the purchaser should correct depressions and uneven surfaces. This will avoid related damage such as a flooded basement, which could result from altered drainage patterns.

It is normal for hairline cracks to appear in paver stones as a result of temperature and precipitation variances. Avoid the use of chemical de-icing compounds and cooking salts that can damage the surface of precast paving units.

Trees and Shrubs

Trees and shrubs planted by Tartan Homes are good quality nursery material but healthy growth will occur only if the greenery is protected and maintained by the homeowner. The warranty is not valid where care and maintenance of plant material has been neglected.

Compact root systems, common to newly planted material, require more moisture than is provided by normal rainfall. Ensure tree planting pits – the dish-shaped soil areas located at the base of the tree—are thoroughly watered weekly during spring and summer to provide sufficient moisture and nutrients to the roots. Also, ensure tree planting pits remain free of weeds and are cultivated at a radius of three to four feet to a depth of four to six inches to promote air transfer to the root systems. The dish shape of the tree-planting pit should be maintained for the first two years as a reservoir for water.

Avoid raising soil above the base of a tree trunk because this could result in serious damage to the tree. Do not plant floral or other ornamental plants at the base of the tree for two years as this may divert necessary moisture away from the tree. Provide regular applications of fertilizer and, where necessary, insect control after consultation with a garden centre.


The masonry finish on the outside of a house usually consists of bricks or stones held together by cement mortar. These finishes should last the lifetime of the house.

Generally, masonry requires little maintenance, although mortar joints and masonry cladding exposed to water and ice, and regular temperature fluctuations, may require repairs at some point. Hairline cracks are not a problem but larger cracks in excess of 1/4 inch will be repaired by Tartan within the warranty period, as will conditions of loose mortar.

If brick becomes dirty, contact a professional brick cleaner or clean it by flushing the surface with the spray from a garden hose, gently scrubbing the brick or stone with water and a soft brush, or using a brick cleaning solution available at hardware and building supply stores. Always follow directions.

Water that finds its way out of the space behind masonry drains through small openings known as weepholes set in the base of the wall and above windows and doors. Never fill or cover these holes. Also note that mortar joints are not waterproof. When locating flower beds next to the home, keep soil at least 200 millimetres (eight inches) below the lower edge of the masonry to prevent water damage to the finish, insulation and framing of the walls. Earth next to the house should be graded and maintained to move moisture away from the building.

Overhead Garage Door

To ensure smooth operation of your overhead garage door, manufacturers recommend three applications per year of 10-W-40 oil to moving parts, the track system and the interior face of the door, the latter to reduce road salt damage.

Opening properly balanced overhead door systems should not require excessive force. Applying excessive force could cause a door panel to release from the track, resulting in damage or injury to the user.

Homeowners who install automatic garage door operators should consult the manufacturer’s installation manual prior to starting the work. Some door types may require additional reinforcement to accommodate certain types of door opening systems. Tartan Homes provides a ceiling-mounted electrical outlet in the garage as a convenient power source for added door operator systems. Review operation and maintenance instructions to promote safe operation.

Posts and Beams

Steel posts and beams, sometimes made of wood, are essential structural components designed to support specified loads for the building.

They should not be altered, adjusted, removed or cut in any way that will affect their performance without consulting with a qualified professional structural engineer. Steel angles that support brickwork over windows and door openings are also structural components.

Property Line

Once the foundation has been poured, a survey certificate that accurately locates your home on the lot is prepared as part of your legal documents. This document accurately describes the property line boundaries in relation to the home’s location on the lot. A copy of this document is provided to the purchaser at time of closing.

Survey pins hammered into the ground approximately two feet below grade at the corners of your lot define your property’s boundaries. Because these pins are sometimes moved during construction, it is advisable to obtain the services of a surveyor before building a fence to ensure your fence is built on your property. Prior to digging fence post holes or making other excavations on your property, call local utilities to locate underground services.

Roofing and Flashing

The asphalt shingles and metal flashing on your roof are the most commonly used roofing materials used in residential neighborhoods and will last many years without the need for repairs or replacement. Under normal conditions they will allow no water penetration into our home.

Slight variations in colour may occur during the manufacture of roofing materials and cannot be controlled by the builder. In most cases, these are hardly noticeable and will become less so over time. They do not affect the performance of your roof, nor do variations or puckering that may be the result of roof sheathing and or fastenings expanding and contracting as temperatures vary.

The roof should be inspected annually to ensure shingles are not broken or cracked and to determine if caulking around venting, skylights and flashings continues to provide impermeable seals. Damaged caulking should be re-sealed and damaged shingles replaced. Damage caused by weather is not the builder’s responsibility but may be covered by your house insurance.

Ice Damming

Heavy build-ups of snow at the roof eaves, in combination with daytime thaws and re-freezing at night can lead to a condition known as ice damming. Ice dams can prevent water from draining from the roof and may lead to roof leaks as water moves under the shingles, potentially causing damage to interior walls and ceilings. Warranty coverage applies only where the ice dams result from a demonstrated defect in the work or material supplied by the builder. When damage occurs, homeowners should take immediate steps to prevent damage and report any losses to their insurance company.

The most effective way to avoid ice damming is to make arrangements to have a roofing contractor remove snow and ice. Where ice dams have already formed, have the ice removed so that normal drainage patterns are restored.

Climbing onto a sloped, ice-covered roof is extremely hazardous and is not recommended. When removing ice and snow from a roof, care should be taken to ensure shingles remain undamaged. Additional information is available in “What Every Home Buyer Should Know,” a publication from the Tarion Warranty Program.

Attic Ventilation and Roof Vents

Attic ventilation, using roof vents and soffit openings, is designed to move air through attic spaces and to the outdoors to avoid substantial temperature differences between attic and outdoor air and to control moisture. All openings should remain free of obstructions to function properly. During winter periods in severe storm conditions, wind may force snow to blow through attic vent openings in the attic space. Accumulated snow should be carefully removed before it melts and causes water damage. This condition is the responsibility of the homeowner.

Plumbing Vents

Plumbing vents provide ventilation to portions of the plumbing drainage system and help exhaust sewage gas odours from the system. They normally outlet through the roof as composite plastic piping. If a sewage-like odour is observed, it may be the result of a blockage to the vent, most often caused by excessive snow accumulation or bird or squirrel nests. Blockages should be removed to restore proper ventilation. Tartan Homes recommends that you call a professional roofer to examine and eliminate the problem.


Siding, whether it is made from metal, vinyl, wood or composite materials may expand and contract and minor gaps or bulges may appear between joints and connections. The builder will repair excess separations or bulges at the end of the first year of the warranty period.

Vinyl and metal siding can be washed with a mild, nonabrasive detergent and water to be returned to its original condition. Colouring will fade over time from exposure to natural elements and discolouration may occur if siding is exposed to sprinkler or garden watering.

Metal siding, although durable, may become permanently dented when struck with sufficient force with small or sharp objects. Vinyl siding resists denting but may become brittle in cold temperatures when it can be shattered upon impact. Vinyl siding can be distorted with extreme heat so barbeques should be kept will away from siding.


Windows installed by Tartan Homes are usually one of the following:

  • Wood frames and sashes
  • Wood frames and sashes (clad with vinyl, metal or factory coating)
  • Extruded PVC frames and sashes

Exterior wood window frames and sashes require regular painting, while windows made from PVC or clad with vinyl, metal, or a factory coating, require little maintenance, other than regular cleaning.

Most modern windows are resistant to air and moisture penetration when properly adjusted and closed to ensure positive contact with weatherstripping. Most window sashes including fixed, casement, slider or awning are glazed with insulating sealed glazing units warranted against failure for at least four years by the manufacturer.

Labour costs are usually not covered where glazing units require replacement after the first year of the warranty.

Although windows are weather resistant, they may at times experience air leakage during extreme cold and wind conditions. Drafts may be observed at times near windows during extreme cold temperatures even when there is no wind. These are caused by convection currents within the home as warm air rises and cooler air descends. This should not be confused with actual air leakage. If condensation and frost are observed on windows, humidity levels in the home should be adjusted. Your can measure the humidity levels in your home with the Hygrometer provided in your welcome gift bag. The levels should remain around 40 in the winter months.

Weatherstripping becomes worn with use and should be inspected and replaced by the homeowner on a regular basis.

Hardware mechanisms on operable window sashes are usually designed to lock the sash against the weather seal of the frame. If there is more than one locking device, as with some casement windows, ensure all are locked or unlocked. Locking only one could result in twisting of the window sash making it difficult to operate.

Caulking material around windows and doors should be inspected and maintained by the owner.