Builders may take short cuts with new homes

When buying a newly built house, you get a new home warranty to cover problems arising in the first few years. At least that’s the case in many Canadian provinces.

Yes, you do have to pay for the warranty, but it’s a measure of protection that you don’t get when buying an older house. And with the Ontario plan, you even get compensation for extraordinary delays in taking possession of the property.

Still, I often hear complaints about Tarion Warranty Corp., the non-profit corporation that administers the Ontario plan. I wrote a column recently that talked about the inadequate heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems installed in some newly built houses.

I asked readers to tell me if they had faced similar issues — or any others involving quality of construction — when buying their dream homes.

How easy was it to get their repairs done under warranty? How satisfactory were their dealings with Tarion? What reforms would they like to see?

Many new home buyers, as well as people working in the HVAC trades, told me about problems they had encountered with HVAC systems and overall building standards.

I’ll give you some of their comments below.

Author: Ellen Roseman

Consumer advocate and personal finance author and instructor.

21 thoughts on “Builders may take short cuts with new homes”

  1. I work in the industry and want to comment.

    Too many times, the emphasis is put on the manufacturer and the equipment. If a piece of equipment fails prematurely, the cause is poor installation most of the time.

    Contractors that are hired through builders work on quantity and not quality.

    The parts that are used in putting together a furnace and a/c come from external companies and are not manufactured through the same company that has its badge on the final product.

    All manufacturers use the same external companies for their parts. The manufacturers of these parts are good, but the equipment made today is far more complex and will break down more often than a furnace made 20 years ago.

    The key always is a good installation. Branding has very little to do with it.

  2. Our neighbour had a problem with his air conditioning, the same as we did, and when he called Geranium he was told to call the people who installed the air condioning.

    He called and was told the warranty was up because he waited a couple of weeks past his 2nd year to complain. They said it had a two-year warranty.

    When we called Geranium about our air conditioning this spring (we moved into our house on Oct. 19, 2009), they told us it had only a one-year warranty. If we wanted it fixed, we would have to pay for it ourselves.

    A bit of a conflicting story…We will need to pay to have it fixed for next summer.

  3. Our new site in the Beach area of Toronto went through this in 2007-2009…..what a mess and what a joke.

    Small builder put up 30 townhomes in 2006-2007. I won’t get into all the headaches with the builder and all the deficiencies, but will tell you about the boiler problems.

    First, as you said, the boilers were small (90,000 btu), not enough to fill the giant size tubs the builder installed in the homes (the boiler even had a small hot water tank to help it…it still wasn’t enough).

    The boiler was the kind that straps onto a wall. They were
    rental units with Reliance Home Comfort.

    After about a year, the boilers starting failing. Many had gas leaks and Enbridge was shutting down the units (no hot water or no heat).

    The word “Tarion” around our site elicited rolling eyes and curses.

    We had one homeowner who took Tarion to task and remained without hot water and heat in the middle of February for (I think) almost a month. He was the first and eventually forced Tarion to get involved.

    Tarion finally agreed to replace the boiler free of charge for all those with gas leaks (almost $10,000 worth of work in boiler, piping, much drywall damage).

    Out of the 30 units, more than 50% of them were changed due to gas leaks. Some still remain, but many of those have had other problems.

    When everyone was getting new boilers due to “gas leaks” (cancelling the rental contracts and owning brand new boilers), I came home to a flooded utility room after being away for the weekend.

    I had a “water leak”, but that wasn’t good enough for Tarion…and thus they would not warranty it. I had to go through the rental company (Reliance) to get a new boiler.

    New piping, drywall work and foaming insulation was not covered by Reliance.

    Tarion would not pony up either until I started threatening to go to “the press” with this boiler fiasco!

    What a mess. My next door neighbour still has an original builder-installed boiler, but continuously has problems with it.

    He is told to by Reliance to change it to a diffferent boiler, but he does not want to foot the bill for the drywall work, piping, foam insulation costs.

    Believe it or not, this is the Coles notes version of it.

  4. My husband and I took possession of a new home in August 2010. The furnace failed in October 2010 and again in February 2011.

    The first time it stopped working, we called our builder, who took 2 days to have the contractor who installed the system contact us.

    While waiting, we also tried calling the contractor directly from the number on the tag on the furnace, but no one answered or returned our messages.

    When we finally reached the contractor, they told us we voided our warranty because we did not purchase the air conditioner (which was not included as part of the new home sale and had to be installed after we took possession) from them.

    We specifically purchased a Lennox air conditioner because the furnace is Lennox and we thought this would make it easier if there was ever a malfunction of either unit.

    The contractor told us our warranty would cover the repair only if we purchased the same air conditioner from them… which is tied selling and is illegal.

    We contacted Tarion and they said that we, in fact, HAD voided our warranty, as our purchase agreement did include a clause confirming the warranty would be voided if we purchased our air conditioner through anyone other than the builder’s contractor.

    Our lawyer agreed that what they were doing was illegal, but that still didn’t help get the furnace fixed.

    We eventually persuaded the company we purchased the air conditioner from to take over the warranty for the furnace.

    This same company came to fix the furnace when it failed again in February 2011. The first time, they replaced the ignition. The second time, they replaced the entire circuit board.

    We researched our furnace model online after the second incident, and realized it is the absolute bottom of the line Lennox system.

    For a difference of only $800, we could have upgraded to a far superior system.

    We wish we thought to ask about the furnace when we signed the contract for the house. For such an insignificant price difference, we would have paid for the better system.

    Feel free to use any of the information, but please omit my name as I still have ongoing issues with Tarion and our home builder that have yet to be resolved.

  5. I work in the HVAC field and I can sum up the problem very simply.

    Stainless steel appliances and granite counters sell houses. HVAC systems do not.

    Builders put emphasis on esthetics, not what’s hidden behind walls.

    New home HVAC systems are installed as quickly as possible to make the builder the most profit.

    A properly designed and installed HVAC system will heat and cool a house in every room. If it’s not doing that, someone has cut corners.

  6. We bought a new custom built home in Woodstock, Ont. and moved in in July of 2008. The home came with a Lennox high efficiency furnace, which we turned on for the first time in November of that year.

    The furnace vibrated something awful and we called the builder, who referred us to the installer/service company out of Kitchener, Ont.

    They sent out a service rep and he replaced the motor in the furnace on Nov. 27, 2008, explaining that Lennox had a problem with furnace motor bearings and that the motors were from China and were not the usual quality.

    The motor again acted up by vibrating and was again replaced in February 2010. The explanation? Some of the replacement motors that Lennox sent out were also from China. We must have gotten one of the bad ones. Both motors and service calls were covered by the warranty.

    Last week, I requested a service call because the motor was once again vibrating and making a racket. I suspect it needs to be replaced yet again.

    I was told that since the two-year warranty was up, they would replace the motor, but would charge us a minimum of $89.50 for the service call and labour. If it took longer than an hour, it would cost more.

    The previous motors were changed in 30 minutes the first time and 40 minutes the second time.

    I argued that there was an obvious problem with the furnace if it was going to require a fourth motor in as many years.

    Also, there was a problem with the motors if they only lasted for one heating season.

    The owner wouldn’t talk to us as he was on another line, but not too busy to say no to warranty on the motor.

    I called Lennox direct in Texas U.S.A. and explained the problem to their department of consumer affairs.

    They assured me that they would be in touch with their district representative. They were concerned about why the motors continued to fail.

    We received a surprise phone call on Friday from the contractor, stating they were not going to charge us for the service call!!!

    They made no mention of whether they had been contacted by Lennox or not, but we are betting they were. Otherwise, we would be stuck with the labour cost for a fourth motor.

    Incidentally, our air conditioner also required service this past summer from the same company. We had to pay close to $200 to fix a corroded wire, but the air conditioner was also out of warranty.

    We recently had to have all the duct work in the basement redone, as the drywall installer literally screwed the drywall to the large hot air heat ducts, not allowing them to expand and contract without loud bangs.

    When the builder was told there were 18 drywall screws in the heat duct, his representative replied there was “no code for that.” It was past the two-year warranty, so they weren’t going to do anything about it.

    We contacted the city building department. They spent two days searching the code, but could find nothing preventing a builder from doing that. But it was considered pretty shoddy workmanship at best.

    There was no framing done around the heating ducts for the drywall to be screwed into, in order to allow the pipes to expand and contract as they are supposed to.

    Tarion is much more interested in protecting the builder than the consumer.

    One other thing we were fooled by was the builder’s billing himself as a Master Builder. We found out the designation is something the builder applies for through the builders’ association and then it is voted on by them.

    The best and smartest thing we did through all this was to keep copies of all the work orders from the installer/service company, since they said they had no record of the first motor replacement until I gave them the technician’s name, date he was here and times etc.

    Only then did they agree that, yes, it would be the fourth motor, if needed. Without those service work orders, we would have gotten nowhere.

    We also had taken pictures of the drywall screws (all of them) in the duct work and saved them on our computer to send to the builder — but to no avail.

    The final cost of removing the drywall and resetting the duct work and redoing the drywall was around $1,850 out of our pocket, since there is evidently no building code that stops drywallers and builders from screwing drywall directly into the heat ducts!!! Who knew?

    Thanks for taking the time to read our story. I’m sure it is not unique.

  7. I’m a holder of an Ontario-issued interprovincial certificate of qualification as a Refrigeration/HVAC
    mechanic (313A), as well as a G.2 (natural gas and propane mechanic) license.

    Companies like mine can’t and don’t bother to compete in the new residential HVAC installation space, because we only hire fully qualified technicians.

    Most of the new install business goes to companies with a different personnel mix.

    There will be teams of “installers” whose only purpose is to bang in the systems, two a day, at labour costs of about one third of a worker like me.

    Most of the sheet metal is prefabricated, so there’s no need for professional sheet metal mechanics on site, though there may be one resource mechanic that does specialty work at a shop.

    There will be a licensed air conditioning technician (313B) that follows the teams around, dealing with refrigerant charging and commissioning systems, typically spending
    about an hour at each site.

    The sheet metal is thin and the builder’s grade heating and a/c’s are worse.

    It’s a race to the bottom with pricing too, as margins are thin on the equipment and workers are pressured to finish the jobs and move on.

  8. My husband and I purchased a new home in 2006. The first night we moved in, the furnace was not working and the house was 10 degrees C.

    My husband managed to get it going around 9 p.m. And with the furnace supplemented with a gas fireplace and a space heater running through the night, the temperature of the house could not reach 22 degrees C by 7 a.m. the next morning.

    Under the Ontario Building Code, the heating system must be able to maintain 22 degrees C at the outside design temperature.

    At that time, we were well above the outside design temperature. We were suspicious of the heating system being undersized.

    Within a few months, our heating system would overheat and fail. It would require a manual reset by going to the basement and turning the furnace switch above the furnace off and and then on again to override the safety on the furnace so that it would restart.

    This procedure quickly went from every 2 hours to every 10 minutes in order to heat our home. We had to take shifts in the night and we could not leave our home for extended periods of time, fearing the pipes would freeze.

    I called Tarion under the “emergency” criteria and explained the situation. Tarion asked if we had a gas fireplace and I said yes, thinking in the interim, until a repair was done, that we could use the fireplace.

    But Tarion responded by saying that we weren’t without a total loss of heat, so it was not treated as an emergency.

    This is absurd when the main heating system for the house could not continue to run without manual intervention every 10 minutes!

    The builder was unable to fix the problem, yet Tarion would not allow us to hire someone else to repair it.

    Bbecause it wasn’t deemed an emergency, I would void my Tarion warranty if someone else repaired it under these circumstances.

    I called the town, because we had a temporary occupancy permit, and indicated the heating system did not meet the Ontario Building Code and could not maintain 22 degrees C.

    The town responded, but later Tarion told the town that it was handling it, so the town backed off. We were back to square one.

    We had to wait until after the first heating season was over for the Tarion conciliation and it was challenging to have the heating system put “under investigation” status.

    At the start of the second heating season, the furnace started to fail again, so Tarion was contacted.

    Tarion would not respond until we had to continually phone and get upset to get action.

    Tarion hired a contractor to run tests, take measurements, witness the furnace failures, and do a heat loss calculation, which determined the furnace and ductwork were undersized.

    Tarion shared the report with the builder’s contractor but refused to provide us, the homeowners, with the report, despite several requests.

    The builder disputed the findings, and after 3.5 weeks of continuous furnace failures at the beginning of the second heating system and calls to Tarion, the builder installed a new furnace of the same size.

    Tarion’s contractor contacted us and was surprised to learn that a furnace of the same size was installed. At this time, we learned that a larger furnace and ductwork were supposed to be installed, not one of the same size.

    This “new” furnace began to fail within weeks of its installation.

    After continuous requests for Tarion’s heating system report and escalating to obtain it, we finally received a copy six months later in the spring of 2008.

    The report indicated the furnace was the correct size, which is contrary to what we learned from Tarion’s contractor in the winter of 2007; however, the report mentioned an original report, so I asked for the original report. We would not have known about the original report had the revised report not mentioned it.

    The original report, which was based on the actual measurements and testing of our home taken by Tarion’s contractor, said the furnace and ductwork were undersized, alas!

    Tarion had commissioned a second report to be written to indicate the original furnace was correctly sized.

    In utter frustration, I learned how to do heat loss calculations and reviewed both reports.

    This revealed the second report was based on incorrect values and insulation levels, and was based on drawings, whereas the original report was based on the actual testing and measurements taken of the home.

    As a result, I was able to prove to Tarion that the second report was inaccurate and we had two furnaces of the same size fail.

    We were approaching our third heating season and still the furnace and ductwork were not changed, as recommended in the original report commissioned by Tarion.

    The builder had two years to rectify the heating system issues and hadn’t. Under Tarion’s “emergency” criteria, he’s only supposed to have 24 hours.

    We had enough of the lack of action, so I contacted the Ministry’s liaison with Tarion. He felt it should have been treated as an “emergency” situation.

    From what I understand, he contacted Tarion to rectify it.

    At the same time, we learned that the builder was intending to go to the Builder’s Arbitration Forum, potentially creating further delays where we would be confined to our home and take shifts in the night to heat our home.

    After a number of calls and assistance from the Ministry, finally, Tarion agreed.

    We wanted Tarion to fix the heating system, but it would only do a cash settlement — and the builder didn’t have to pay a cent (why, I don’t know).

    We eventually received a cheque to change the furnace and ductwork, which we did immediately. We haven’t had a problem since.

    I’ve learned how “in bed” Tarion is with the builders in this whole Tarion process.

    I ask that you keep my name anonymous.

  9. Whenever we see the words Tarion, low cost and new homeowner in the same newspaper article, we get a flashback to winter 2004.

    We were three days late with paperwork to Tarion when we found out our attic insulation was less than specified.

    It is now R50++ at a cost of $1,400. (Tarion refused that part of our claim.) Little wonder the furnace was running 50 per cent of the time on cold days.

    Luckily, we did not have the builder finish the basement. He left all the ductwork exposed. We found:

    – pop cans and builder debris in the ductwork and vents
    – joints in the ductwork were loose and not taped
    – there was not enough cold air returns in the basement system.

    Our heating system was never turned on by the builder until the day before we moved in. They used portable propane heaters during all construction.

    Other things we did at our own expense:

    – went to Carrier website and found out our furnace model has a warranty of $270 should the secondary heat exchanger fail early.
    – insulated all the basement ductwork to reduce basement cooling effect in summer.
    – insulated all exposed cold water pipes to prevent condensation. (Water drips will ruin drywall ceilings.)

    Lessons learned:

    – Canada needs tighter building codes for heating and air conditioning of new homes (and longer Tarion warranty periods).

    – Don’t let the builder finish your basement for the first two winters or until system is completely checked.

    – The $2000 we spent on insulation is money in the bank. Our natural gas consumption has dropped from about 2,700 cubic metres to 1,800 cubic metres per year.

    – We have a back-up electric heating system set at 10C in case our furnace fails.

  10. Thank you so much for writing about the problem new homeowners have with HVAC deficiencies.

    These problems are very difficult for consumers to properly diagnose, and when they do, Tarion is not home.

    My experience is similar to that described by the homeowner in your article, Ms. Craddock. But we lost our appeal at the License Appeal Tribunal, so we have to go to Small Claims Court and repeat the whole process all over again.

    We bought a new home from a builder in Dec. 2007. About 10 months after purchase, we started to have several (we thought) plumbing-related problems, which seemed at the time routine, like drains clogged with calcium, faucets clogged with calcium.

    The builder told us not to call Tarion, but he would take care of everything. His plumber said the problem was probably building debris and flushed out the faucets.

    After a few more complaints, the builder’s plumber did not return our calls. And by this time, the 2-year Tarion Warranty had run out.

    We started to hear by mid-2010 loud periodic banging sounds coming from the basement. A plumber we called said this was normal, since the water in the hot water tank (a rental from Direct Energy) was boiling.

    As time went on, the noise got worse. We called another plumber in Dec. 2010 who told us this was not normal and we should call Direct Energy. The builder was out of the country and not available.

    Direct Energy came in Jan. 2011 and recommended the immediate removal of the hot water tank and said it was overloaded with snow melt and in-floor radiant heating, and the tank was not meant for this.

    They said we should have had a second boiler to handle snow melt and radiant floor heating.

    The builder had constructed with our approval, at the cost to us of $25,000, new cement front steps with snow melt in 2009.

    He lived in the semi-detached home adjacent to ours, which he had also built new at the same time, and used the same in-floor heating contractor to do this, as had done the original hot water heating installation. He sold his house in June 2011.

    We now have to have our whole hot water installation redesigned and reinstalled to suit the needs of the house. The original installation in 2007 was overloaded at the time and the tank was never specified for this use.

    The gas-fueled tank was never inspected by Enbridge, as required. Since it was a rented tank, Direct Energy says they have no control over how it was used. It’s the builder’s responsibility.

    The builder says the Tarion warranty has expired and he is not liable for anything after 2 years.

    We appealed to Tarion for coverage, saying we had been misled by the builder into thinking we were dealing with routine plumbing problems when the problem was the appliance had been misused in its original application in Dec. 2007 (too many BTUs of heat load for the capacity of the tank).

    Tarion said we had not brought this problem to them within the 2-year period, we said we couldn’t have it properly diagnosed til Dec. 2010.

    We then applied for coverage under the remaining 7-year Tarion warranty, but could not get it defined as a “major structural defect”.

    We appealed our case to the License Appeal Tribunal (representing ourselves, with an expert witness) and failed to meet the test for “major structural defect” under the New Home Warranty Plan Act.

    We spent about 75 hours of work on our case and it was a humiliating and grueling 2-day case, plus a day of pre-hearings.

    Tarion’s lawyer joined forces with the builder’s lawyer to fight us and strike down our claim.

    Where is the protecting new homeowners Tarion proclaims to be doing? What happened here was like having the person who caused the accident join forces with your own insurance company to fight you.

    It was bizarre and extremely stressful for my husband and me. To hire a lawyer for this would have cost us $15,000 or more.

    We are claiming $20,000 to fix the problem, plus cover damages due to further drain and faucet damage.

    We now face going through another winter without this secondary source of heat in our home and the safely feature of the back walkway snowmelt that we paid for when we bought our new home.

    We now have to take our case to Small Claims Court, which will take another 4 to 6 months to get a trial date, and we have to go through the same thing all over again.

    The builder’s lawyer has said he will bring a motion to throw our case out of Small Claims Court (because he says we reported the problem too late), and he will bring this motion in Jan. 2012.

    If he succeeds, the builder will have gotten away with everything, and Tarion will have helped him do it.

    Why doesn’t Tarion investigate other homes built by this builder now that they know of the problem?

    This builder just sold another home in June 2011 with the same defect. Tarion knows about this and seems content to cover up for the builder.

    An offer of settlement of $8,000 was made to us “on behalf of Tarion and the builder” by the two lawyers (Tarion’s and the builder’s) on the eve of our LAT hearing.

    But in addition to being too low to cover our costs to repair, this offer was contingent upon us giving up our rights to proceed with our Small Claims Court action against the builder and his sister.

    We included other contractual rights that were never fulfilled by the builder, like complying with the Ontario Heritage Act for the facade of our building.

    We became very suspicious of Tarion’s motives in slanting this offer to the advantage of the builder to get him off the hook. And since we were defending ourselves, we thought we shouldn’t sign anything which would wipe out other contractual rights.

    Our whole experience with Tarion and the License Appeal Tribunal in the last 11 months has been extremely stressful and very difficult for us, not being lawyers or “hydronics” experts.

    It has taken up so much of our time (my husband and I both run small businesses), and the finger-pointing between city inspectors, Enbridge, the builder, his sub-contractors, his lawyer, Tarion and their lawyers, has been more than most consumers would ever have the guts or energy to take on.

    But isn’t his why Tarion was created in the first place? To “protect new homeowners” and “regulate the new home building industry” is what its website says.

    My experience with Tarion over the last 11 months leads me to conclude Tarion has a far too cozy relationship with builders. They put lawyers in charge of dealing with the homeowner, and lawyers are only interested in winning their case, not necessarily serving the consumer or even the public good.

    I believe something very wrong is going on at Tarion. They are too complacent about these HVAC deficiencies. They side with the builders and let them off the hook to go on and short-change other consumers.

    And the LAT is a sort of lion’s den into which consumers are thrown to try to get compensation for these hard to discover HVAC defects.

    I have written to the Tarion Ombudsman (an ombudsman in name only), the Ombudsman of Ontario, my MPP, the Minister of Consumer Services, the Deputy Minister of Consumer Services, even the Premier about this.

    I finally got an appointment with my MPP coming up in Dec. to discuss this.

    I had a 1/2 hour discussion on the phone with the Assistant Deputy Minister of Consumer Services about a month ago to express my serious concerns about Tarion, how they handled us as consumers, their bias toward builders, and how the LAT is a waste of taxpayers’ money to handle this type of problem.

    Although the Deputy Minister listened to my concerns, he came with no concrete action plan. I wrote him back to say I wanted to hear what his Ministry was going to do about this. No response yet.

    The only one laughing at all this is the builder, and he has been given a far too easy ride by Tarion and the LAT.

  11. The above is so true. Thank you for this post.

    Many new homebuilders, like the one we had, know very well how to “work the system”, and Tarion is the great aider and abettor of the builders.

    Our builder knew the trick of putting in rented equipment (like a rental hot water tank). As new home buyers, we had no choice in this.

    Direct Energy, which owns the tank, has no idea how it is installed and doesn’t seem to care. The tank breaks down due to mis-application by the builder, and the homeowner is left with the problem.

    The builder has maximized his profits on your back, and he’s off to the annual Tarion golf tournament for builders.

    After you pay $15,000 to $20,000 for a properly designed system, Direct Energy sends you a “buy-out penalty” invoice of $1,600 to remove the mis-applied tank.

    Want to buy a new home from this builder? He’s still fully licensed and in good standing with Tarion.

  12. Thanks, Ellen, for shedding light on this important issue. I believe your article was instrumental in making Tarion pay up the $40,000 I was awarded by the License Appeals Tribunal.

    Unfortunately, the Builder is appealing the decision to Divisional Court. What this means is that I have to hire a lawyer to defend because the Builder is asking for costs of the appeal against me.

    Also, to protect other consumers, I believe it is important that this decision is upheld by the Court. It seems to me that I must put my time and money into helping to protect other consumers with these HVAC issues, while Tarion and the Ministry of Consumer Services is missing in action.

    My lawyer tells me that even if the Builder loses the appeal, I will likely not be able to recover all of my legal costs.

    In addition to these HVAC woes, I had many other major issues. I lived in my house for 3 months without hot water to my showers or bath. The Builder Rep came and put his hand under the cold water and said “it was hot enough for any reasonable person.”

    I was put in the ridiculous position of having to hire a home inspector to film putting a thermometer to record the temperature of the not hot water.

    I complained to Tarion that they couldn’t treat heat and hot water with the same lack of urgency as a dent in my hardwood. I was actually told by the Tarion representative that “hot water is a luxury.”

    The eventual solution to the hot water is that I have to pay an extra $20 a month for an additional storage tank. I still can’t take a 10-minute shower in the winter or fill a full tub.

    My roof was supposedly warranted for 2 years, which is a minimal warranty. In the first year, it leaked repeatedly. causing significant damage to my property, which of course is not covered.

    There were nights I couldn’t sleep for the sound of water dripping into the numerous buckets. On one occasion, my son’s bed/mattress was totally drenched with the water.

    The builder did repeated bandaid repairs and the Tarion Rep made all kinds of excuses. Even though I had a home inspection report that said there were issues with the roof, Tarion ignored it.

    Tarion’s line is that you have to prove your case, but no amount of proof will ever be enough.

    Today is my 4th anniversary of living with this. Happy anniversary — I am waiting for the roofers to come and repair another leak. Their verdict: poor installation.

    Because Tarion only warrants the repair for one year, I can’t go to Tarion. I am out of pocket for the repair, although I never got two full years without leaking.

    Saddly, there are many other issues. I bought a new house precisely so I could have at least a few years without significant repairs. I found out that I didn’t even get the basics: heat and shelter.

    I know firsthand what stress this causes in a homeowner’s life. What made all of this worse was that I was treated by both the Builder and Tarion as if I was the unreasonable one.

    I would suggest that my real life story should be posted in every sales centre right next to the fiction put out by Tarion of “protecting Ontario’s new home buyers.”

  13. It was my impression that Tarion was an organization of builders protecting other builders.

    I remember hosting an open house in a very exclusive area, where a now defunct builder was building these lavish homes. People were coming to my door from the neighborhood, literally crying because they had been waiting 2 years for things and they weren’t getting help.

    I felt awful but I was just trying to sell the home. I had no direct dealing ever with the builder, but he was represented by our brokerage.

    After they went bankrupt, I tried to find information on the Tarion site about their complaints and infractions but there wasn’t anything. When I contacted Tarion, they said, oh, we only give information on companies that are currently in business…say what?

    So you deleted the files so they can start totally clean under another name? Nice. Great job protecting consumers.

    Many people mistakenly assume the sellers at new home sites are real estate agents and have the misguided impression the sellers have RECO’s code of ethics to follow, but that’s not usually true.

    New home sites can use anyone they want. The sellers don’t need to be licensed, so they don’t have the same code of conduct.

    So, who is looking after the buyer’s interests? Well, often nobody is. Even if they are licensed agents and you sign a buyer agency agreement, there are clearly divided interests.

    I’ve always wondered how it was possible for one agent to be able to look after 2 opposing interests. I don’t understand why the Competition Bureau allows this conflict of interest.

    Have you ever seen a corporate negotiation where the negotiator was fighting for the very best for both sides…how is that even possible?

    Great to get paid twice, I suppose, for having to remain neutral. At the end of the day, who is paying for their services? Not the buyers, but the builders.

    Another problem: The contracts used by builders often say you can’t use your own house inspector, you must use theirs.

    If they are doing everything as promised, what’s the big fear of letting an independent trained professional confirm that? That would back the builder up if, down the road, someone took out all attic insulation or something as well.


  14. Hi Ellen,

    We live in a new home development in the Durham Region and have had ongoing problems with leaks in our roof.

    When we talked with TARION, our new home warranty did not protect us because our home is almost 3 years old.

    We have had $9,000 in damages in our master bedroom, but now we have a leak in our master bathroom. We have been in contact with our neighbours and they have the same issues with roof tiles coming off and leaks.

    The builder has promised to look at these issues but we keep getting the runaround.

    Thanks for listening,
    A frustrated homeowner

  15. We have on going issues with Tarion and our builder Daycore Homes out of Barrie, Ont.

    Almost 2 1/2 years later, we still have no resolution to heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) issues and leaking basement windows.

    The Tarion rep has been a complete nightmare and we have had to go to his supervisor and a director about this ongoing favouritism towards the builder. Wrongfully so.

    I have even had to hire my own consultants to dispute the rep’s findings. Glaringly obvious issues that he dismisses He won’t even look at certain issues and I doubt he has the credentials to be making any kind of comments regarding HVAC.

    The equipment he brought was completely inadequate and gave false readings. They couldn’t agree with me and overturn his decision.

    Why do I keep having to do this? If I didn’t work for a builder and have some kind of knowledge and a stubborn personality, I would have given up long ago. It wears on you. Drains you, but I will not give up.

    Too bad the system is the way it is. I agree with a lot of comments here on the relationships that some reps seem to have with builders.

    I am even having issues with local contractors, who won’t give me a quote to repair. I have been offered settlement amounts for some things by Tarion. They are a complete joke and I have to run around to get quotes to prove again that the rep has no clue.

    Do we get reimbursed for the time we take to do their job for them? I wish we did…I could quit my day job. It is a sad, sad system.

  16. Hello Miss Ellen,
    We have just purchased a brand new house and the builder has not even started building it. After getting the initial down payment, the builder has notified us that some of the structural features, which we wanted in the house and the builder agreed to, cannot be provided.

    Since every member of their team promised these features with certainty, we did not document them. How we can legally tackle this issue?

    We are very stressed to face this situation. So please help us.

  17. Hi Ellen, we built our dream home last winter through a small builder in town. House closed on April 23, 2015.

    This past week and weekend, we had lots of rain. Our basement walls are wet. Water seeps through walls and comes in from pipes.

    We sent email with pictures to the builder and are waiting for their response now. We have had lots of issues with the builder for different defects and they were not supportive at all. So we don’t know what’s going to happen about this issue now.

    What’s the best way to deal with situation? We are so stressed. Thanks for your advice in advance.

  18. Hi Ellen,

    We bought a new home from Lebovic Homes in May 2015. Recently (2 weeks ago), we found mold on one of our walls in our closet, caused by water damage behind the wall, and it has been a nightmare trying to get it fixed.

    We also just had a newborn son in November, and his room is the room next to the one with mold, so I am very concerned about the quality of air he is breathing.

    The builder has come by to fix it twice, but all they have done so far is open the dry wall to reveal the leak.

    I’m very stressed out, and worried about my family’s health.

    Thank you for your advice.

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