Tag Archives: Tarion

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Consumer Protection: Ready For Occupancy

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Consumer Protection: Ready For Occupancy

Your PDI is an opportunity to note anything that’s missing, damaged or not working in your new home

If you chose to buy a preconstruction home instead of a resale home, it’s probably because you were looking forward to everything being brand new and finished just the way you want it.

Unfortunately, come moving day, some new homeowners find that their home may not be entirely complete. Regardless of whether it’s missing fixtures, finishes or perhaps even flooring, it’s an unexpected surprise.

Homeowners who find themselves in these situations are understandably frustrated and disappointed – and they want to know who is responsible. Often, they turn to Tarion for answers.

Tarion administers the Ontario new home warranty program, which sets out the minimum warranty standards and repair timelines that builders are expected to adhere to. Homeowners have a number of protections under the program, including delayed closing compensation, deposit protection and construction warranties that last for up to seven years.

Ontario Building Code (OBC) standards are set by the province and enforced by municipal building departments. Municipal building officials issue building permits and conduct scheduled inspections at various points during construction, primarily focusing on major components of the home – for example, the plumbing and electrical systems – and the safety features.

For a home to be deemed ready for occupancy, it must meet the minimum standards for occupancy as dictated by the OBC and it requires that a home be substantially complete and ready to use for its intended purpose. It also lays out the minimum systems and safety-related features that must be completed before occupancy can take place. If a home meets those standards, the municipality must grant an occupancy permit.

So, “ready for occupancy” and “finished” do not necessarily mean the same thing. We understand that this can be frustrating for homeowners and are exploring opportunities to work with the industry through Ontario Building Partnerships to increase public education around the current occupancy standards. This was, in fact, one of the issues covered in our recent webinar with representatives of the Ontario Building Officials Association and the Ontario Home Builders’ Association.

Your Pre-Delivery Inspection — or PDI — is an opportunity to note anything that’s missing, damaged or not working in your new home. This list serves as a record of the state of your home and a to-do list for your builder. You can also contact your municipal building department if you believe there may be violation of the Ontario Building Code. You should make sure to report any remaining issues to Tarion on your 30-day or year-end warranty form.

So, if your home is unfinished when you take possession, there is help available to get your issues addressed. To learn more about the warranty coverage and how Tarion can help, visit Tarion.com.

Howard Bogach is president and CEO of the Tarion Warranty Corporation. His column appears 10 times a year in HOMES Magazine. For more information about how Tarion helps new homebuyers, visit Tarion.com or find them on Facebook at Facebook.com/TarionWarrantyCorp

 

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Four reasons to buy a new home

Four reasons to buy a new home

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Four reasons to buy a new home

When you’re in the market for a new home there are many tough decision to be made.

When you’re in the market for a new home it can be a tough decision. Do you head to the sales office of a local builder or check out resale homes? Here are some reasons to buy a brand new home:

The latest technology

Homebuilding has seen significant changes in construction techniques and new technology over the last 10 years. New homes today come with efficiency features such as tankless water heaters, high-efficiency condensing furnaces, low-flow showerheads, Energy Star appliances, high-performance windows and smart thermostats. This means today’s homes and condos are easier on your utility costs and the environment while providing you a home that is as tech-savvy as you are.

Registered builders versus DIY

New homebuilders in Ontario need a licence to build. In fact, it’s the law that they be registered with Tarion, the regulatory authority. This means that builders must meet financial and technical tests before they can build homes, providing you with some peace of mind about your investment.

An older home, on the other hand, may have changed ownership several times, which could mean it’s seen many years of DIY fixes or renovations that may not meet the current Ontario Building Code. Older homes may also have more hidden issues like faulty wiring, illegal alterations and use of older materials.

Best-in-class warranty

Almost every new home or condo in Ontario is covered by a new home warranty with up to $300,000 in coverage. From the moment of possession, almost everything the builder provides, inside and out, is covered in the first year. The major systems inside your home, including heating and plumbing, are covered for up to two years and major structural defects are covered for up to seven years.

Customized finishes

A newly built house or condo gives you the opportunity to customize it to your tastes before it’s even built. Depending on the builder, you can often choose wall colours, design and colour of cabinets and countertops, types of fixtures in your kitchen or bathroom, floor finishes and the style of interior trim throughout your home. Find more tips at tarion.com.

WHAT EVERY HOMEBUYER NEEDS

Buying a new home is exciting, but also a lot of work. It involves a whole series of decisions beginning with setting your budget all the way to picking out bathroom tiles. Wouldn’t it be great to have a trusted advisor to help?

MyHome Planner is a free app that offers the reliable advice, information and organization skills you need at each step of the home buying process. It’s like a best friend, new home expert and personal assistant all rolled into one.

One of the first big decisions to tackle is where you want to live. The app can help you research builders and where they are proposing to develop new homes or condos. It also gives you access to Tarion’s Ontario Builder Directory so you can see how long a builder has been in business, how many homes it has built and whether there have been any warranty claims.

Once you know where you want to be, the fun part comes when it’s time to choose the house model and customize it with fixtures, countertops and other finishes to create the home of your dreams. The app can help with scheduling, reminders and valuable information that will help to ensure nothing is forgotten.

When it comes time for the Pre-Delivery Inspection — a walk-through of your completed home with the builder prior to taking possession — you need to identify issues such as damaged or incomplete items.

But do you know what to look for or what questions to ask? The app can coach you with tips, videos and resources that will help you through the process. It can also help you learn about your new home warranty. Find more tips at tarion.com.

TOP FIVE TIPS FOR FIRST-TIME BUYERS

Buying your first home can be exciting, but it is important to realize the slew of new responsibilities that come with owning property. Tasks that a landlord would take care of are now on your plate. Here are some to keep in mind:

Neighbourhood by-laws

Many communities maintain regulations, such as maximum heights for fences, hedges and trees; building permits for decks; and rules for the construction of fire pits. To avoid an accidental misstep, check out the neighbourhood by-laws when you are moving.

Maintain smoke alarms According to the Canadian regulations, smoke alarms must be installed outside of each sleeping area and on each level. Maintenance of these devices include testing them every month, cleaning and changing their batteries as directed by the manufacturer and replacing any that are over 10 years old.

Check seldomley used bathrooms

Grime and dirt build-up can cause your faucets and toilets to malfunction or get damaged. Avoid this by running the taps and flushing the toilets of guest bathrooms occasionally.

Curb appeal

Don’t forget to maintain your outdoor property as well. Take pride in your new home with a well-manicured yard. This may not be everyone’s favourite chore, but Stihl’s Lithium-Ion Homescaper Series can help in easing the load with lightweight and powerful tools making the job much easier.

Emergency fund

Now that you own your home, you are solely responsible for any and all repairs. These can be costly, and often come by surprise. Avoid an unplanned financial burden by keeping an emergency fund for household maintenance and repairs. Find more information about helpful tools online at stihl.ca.

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Consumer Protection: Purchasing Pre-Construction

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Consumer Protection: Purchasing Pre-Construction

When you purchase a preconstruction condominium, you expect your home will look just like the sales brochure promised. Unfortunately, some condominium owners end up moving into buildings that are still under construction and into units that are missing their carefully chosen finishes or lacking features needed to make them comfortable to live in.

Condo owners who find themselves in these situations are understandably frustrated and disappointed – and they want to know who is responsible. Often, they turn to Tarion for answers.

It’s important to understand that when it comes to determining when a condo is ready for occupancy, that responsibility lies with the municipality. Municipal building departments are responsible for enforcing the Ontario Building Code (OBC) and certifying that condo units meet the legal standards for occupancy. Although municipalities enforce these standards, they are set by the provincial government.

Municipal building officials also conduct inspections at various points during construction, primarily focusing on major components of the unit – for example the plumbing or the heating/air conditioning systems – and the safety features.

The OBC sets the minimum standards for occupancy and if a unit meets those standards, the municipality must grant occupancy. The OBC requires that a home be substantially complete and ready to use for its intended purpose. It also lays out the minimum systems and safety related features that must be completed before occupancy can take place.

As we’ve heard from some of the condo owners who have contacted us, a unit that is deemed ready for occupancy isn’t necessarily completely finished.

In some cases, finishing in your unit may occur after you move in. We understand that this can be a frustrating experience and are exploring opportunities to work with the industry through the Ontario Building Partnership to increase public education around the current occupancy standards.

Recently, Tarion, together with the Ontario Building Officials Association and the Ontario Home Builders’ Association, were joined by 350 viewers during a webinar to discuss ways we are all working together to build consumer confidence in the new home buying experience. Unfinished homes was one of the issues we explored.

If you have questions about the state of your unit, you should first contact your builder. You can also contact your municipal building department if you believe there may be OBC violations. And as always, you should be sure to make a record of any incomplete work during your Pre-Delivery Inspection and be sure to report any unresolved issues to Tarion on your 30-day and year-end warranty forms.

So, while no one wants to find themselves in an unfinished condo, there is help available. To learn more about the warranty coverage on condos and how Tarion can help, visit Tarion.com

HOWARD BOGACH is president and CEO of Tarion Warranty Corp., a private corporation established to protect the rights of new homebuyers and to regulate new home builders.

Tarion.com

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Consumer Protection: Document All Deficiencies

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Consumer Protection: Document All Deficiencies

Most new homes will require some adjustments after move-in and Tarion is there to help

When you move into your new home, you hope that everything will be perfect. However, in reality, some aspects of your home may require fixes. In most cases, new homeowners and builders work well together to get the repairs done so that owners can fully enjoy their homes.

But what happens when you and your builder disagree on whether the items that need to be repaired are covered under the warranty?

That’s when Tarion can step in. We can help you settle disagreements about warranty coverage when you and your builder are unable to do so. There are a few steps you need to take to ensure we can help you.

First, you must submit a warranty claim to Tarion within the proper timeframe using one of our forms. The forms include the 30-day form, the yearend form, the second-year form and the major structural defect form.

One of the easiest ways to submit a form is through MyHome, Tarion’s online portal (there’s also an app) that owners of newly built homes can use to manage their warranty.

Once you register with MyHome, you can find the proper form for your warranty claim, fill it out and submit it easily from your computer or mobile device.

After you submit the claim, your builder has a specific number of days, called a repair period, to resolve all the items on your form that are covered by the warranty.

If your builder doesn’t fix all your warranty items by the end of the repair period, you can request conciliation. This is a process in which Tarion decides whether the items on your warranty claim form are covered under the warranty.

Conciliation may include a visit to your home, or what we call a desk assessment – a review of all the documentation related to the claim. You should provide all evidence – documents, photographs, videotapes, etc. – that you want Tarion to consider when assessing your claim.

A Tarion Warranty Services Representative, acting as a neutral and impartial decision maker, will review your documentation, determine if the items on your claim form are covered under the warranty and issue a report that explains Tarion’s decision. If Tarion agrees that your claim items are covered, your builder is given a final 30 days to resolve them. If that doesn’t happen, we’ll resolve your claim directly with you.

Some homeowners are worried that working with Tarion on their unresolved claims will affect their relationship with their builder. However, you need to protect your investment and your warranty rights. So, if you can’t agree with your builder about repairs to your new home, know that we’re here to help.

Howard Bogach is president and CEO of the Tarion Warranty Corporation. His column appears 10 times a year in HOMES Magazine. For more information about how Tarion helps new homebuyers, visit Tarion.com or find them on Facebook at Facebook.com/TarionWarrantyCorp

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Consumer Protection: A Cancelled Project Doesn’t Leave You Out of Pocket

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Consumer Protection: A Cancelled Project Doesn’t Leave You Out of Pocket

If you check out Toronto’s skyline, you’ll see cranes – lots and lots of cranes. They’re a sign of the times in today’s condo construction boom. While the frenzied market we saw for detached homes in 2017 has calmed down a bit, the demand for condos has continued to grow as people see them as the only affordable option.

While there seems to be no shortage of willing condo buyers, however, there is a shortage of preconstruction condos available for sale. Unfortunately, this is due in part to development projects taking longer than expected to be built, or some being cancelled altogether.

There may be many different reasons why some developments don’t ever get constructed – for example, the builders might lack sufficient capital or fail to obtain the necessary zoning or permits. Whatever the cause, a cancelled project can leave purchasers without a home to look forward to. The good news is that it shouldn’t leave them out of pocket.

Under the Condominium Act, if a condo project is cancelled, purchasers are entitled to receive their entire deposit back, including any payments made for extras and upgrades. This is because the builders are required to put these monies in trust or provide alternative acceptable security. If a project is terminated and for some reason the deposits and other amounts are not repaid by the vendor then condo buyers are eligible for protection from Tarion up to $20,000, plus certain accrued interest.

If you’re buying a pre-construction condo, there is always a risk that the project could be delayed or cancelled. There have even been cases where purchase agreements are terminated and then the condos are constructed at a later date.

That’s why it’s important for potential buyers to know that under the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act, a builder must attach an Addendum to every condo purchase agreement that requires them to disclose the status of the zoning approval and construction. It also limits what kind of early termination conditions that they can impose in the purchase agreement and obligates them to use reasonable efforts to meet these conditions before they can cancel the project.

There are consumer protections in place to ensure that all reasonable steps are taken to complete a condo project, but it is important to understand your rights as a purchaser if it does not. If your purchase agreement is terminated through no fault of your own, you should get your money back within 10 days. If you don’t, Tarion is here to help.

HOWARD BOGACH is president and CEO of Tarion Warranty Corp., a private corporation established to protect the rights of new homebuyers and to regulate new home builders. Tarion.com

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Consumer Protection: Fraud Prevention Month Keeps Buyers Aware of Any Problems

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Consumer Protection: Fraud Prevention Month Keeps Buyers Aware of Any Problems

Not only does March herald the beginning of spring, it’s also Fraud Prevention Month. And as new home construction ramps up with the warmer weather, we want buyers to be aware that illegal builders may be at work as well.

To help protect homebuyers, fines for illegal building were recently increased under the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act.

The increases are significant: As of the beginning of the year, individuals found violating the law can face fines of as much as $50,000 – up from $25,000 – as well as imprisonment of up to two years less a day, twice the previous jail time. Corporations building new homes will face the heaviest penalties, with maximum fines of $250,000, up from the previous $100,000 fine. Their directors and officers can also be fined up to $50,000.

The increases in fines and jail time are intended to act as a deterrent for illegal builders who may compromise the safety and functionality of your new home, not to mention tarnish the reputation of the entire industry.

So what constitutes an “illegal” builder? The definition applies to any builder who enters into an agreement of purchase or sale or a construction contract for a new home and is not registered with Tarion. It’s also illegal to start building a home or condominium without first enrolling the project with Tarion.

Choosing a legal builder is important and I can give you a number of good reasons why.

As part of their registration with Tarion, legal builders have to pass a written test on the Ontario Building Code and prove that they have the technical competence and financial means to produce a well-built home. Legal builders and vendors also respect the legal requirement to enroll the new home or condo in the warranty plan.

Purchasers of new homes are entitled to deposit protection and delayed closing compensation, a one-year warranty on work and materials and Ontario Building Code violations, a two-year warranty on defects e.g., water penetration, and seven years for major structural defects.

If the home is built illegally, there are at least two concerns. The homeowner is less likely to know their warranty rights. Also, homeowners could end up with a building that may not even be safe to live in or be financially responsible for problems that occur later on.

To be on the safe side you should always check the Ontario Builder Directory on Tarion.com for information on licensed builders.

In line with Fraud Prevention Month, if you believe a builder is not licensed please call the Tarion anonymous tip-line at 1.800.786-6497. All information remains confidential.

HOWARD BOGACH is president and CEO of Tarion Warranty Corp., a private corporation established to protect the rights of new homebuyers and to regulate new home builders.

Tarion.com

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Consumer Protection: More Deposit Protection

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Consumer Protection: More Deposit Protection

Changes to act means down payment coverage has increased

When you buy a resale home, you can see what you’re getting before you sign an agreement and invest your money.

However, when purchasing a newly built home, your home may only exist as a floorplan when you put your deposit down. It’s then on your builder to bring your investment to life.

But if your home never makes it beyond the floorplan and your builder does not — or cannot — return your deposit, it’s good to know that your deposit is protected.

As of January 1, changes to regulations under the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act mean that new homebuyers of non-condominium freehold homes have more of their deposit money protected than ever before.

How does this work?

If you paid $600,000 for your home or less, you are eligible to receive up to $60,000 to reimburse you for amounts paid to the builder. If your home was more than $600,000, you are eligible to receive up to 10 per cent of the purchase price, to a maximum of $100,000.

In addition, the passage of the Strengthening Protection for Ontario Consumers Act, 2017, means that this deposit protection now includes other payments, such as those made for upgrades and extras.

While this enhanced coverage only applies to non-condominium freehold homes, it’s important to note that condo buyers are also protected by the Condominium Act, which requires that the full deposit be placed in trust. If, for some reason these funds are released improperly from the trust, Tarion will cover up to $20,000.

A new home is a big investment – one of the biggest of our lives. And while you can’t put a price on peace of mind, I’m pleased that we’re able to provide deposit protection that is more in line with today’s home prices.

If you’re looking to buy a new home this year, I encourage you to visit Tarion. com to learn more about Tarion’s new deposit coverage.

Howard Bogach is president and CEO of the Tarion Warranty Corporation. His column appears 10 times a year in HOMES Magazine. For more information about how Tarion helps new homebuyers, visit Tarion.com or find them on Facebook at Facebook.com/TarionWarrantyCorp

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Consumer Protection: Condo Conversions

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Consumer Protection: Condo Conversions

Condos come in all shapes and sizes. Some buyers prefer slick, modern, multi-story towers while others are looking for buildings with more character and maybe a little history. If the latter is what you’re in the market for, I have some good news for you.

In many urban areas, warehouses and other old industrial structures are often converted into condos that incorporate some of the building’s more interesting features (e.g., large windows, framing, brick walls) into the design. The industry term for these types of developments is “residential condominium conversion projects” or RCCPs. The features of a structure incorporated into an RCCP are called “pre-existing elements.”

Effective January 1, 2018, all of the warranties (one-year, two-year and seven-year) included in the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act (ONHWPA) now apply to these types of condos with one exception: any pre-existing elements – which, for example, might include an exposed brick interior wall – would not have the one-year warranty regarding the home being constructed in a workmanlike manner and free from defects in material.

Y Lofts by Atria

Up until now, RCCPs did not come with new home warranty coverage under ONHWPA because they weren’t entirely ‘new’ buildings.

But there’s still more good news. If you’re putting down a deposit on a condo unit that is part of an RCCP, you’ll be happy to know that you’re now entitled to the same deposit protection and delayed occupancy coverage as other condo buyers. This means that your deposit, and any amounts paid for upgrades and extras, must be placed in trust and refunded in full if the project does not proceed. This should give you some added confidence that your money is protected if the unexpected happens.

Researching your builder will also be easier. Under the new regulations, builders of RCCPs and vendors who wish to sell units in these projects must be registered with Tarion. This means that you’ll be able to look them up on the Ontario Builder Directory on Tarion.com.

So what happens if your rental apartment building is being converted into condos? These condos would not be eligible for coverage because the existing building was already built for residential living and converting the building doesn’t involve major changes. Most of the original components remain, with only minor changes made to the building.

This ONHWPA warranty coverage for RCCPs applies to projects where the first purchase agreement in the project is signed on or after January 1, 2018.

If you have your eye on a new loft with a little more history to it, I hope these changes will help you buy with confidence knowing that you now have a safety net. To learn more about this warranty coverage, you can visit Tarion.com or if you have questions, you can email customerservice@tarion.com.

HOWARD BOGACH is president and CEO of Tarion Warranty Corp., a private corporation established to protect the rights of new homebuyers and to regulate new home builders.

Tarion.com

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Tarion

Tarion expands deposit coverage for new homebuyers in 2018

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Tarion expands deposit coverage for new homebuyers in 2018

Enhanced deposit coverage and new warranty protection for condo conversions

Ontarians hoping to take the leap into homeownership can buy with added confidence thanks to expanded consumer protection measures coming into force on January 1, 2018.

Purchasers placing deposits on new freehold homes will now have increased deposit coverage of 10 per cent of the purchase price, up to a maximum coverage of $100,000 with minimum coverage of $60,000. Previously, these buyers were only eligible for a maximum of $40,000 in deposit protection.

New homebuyers will also benefit from the recent passage of the Strengthening Protection for Ontario Consumers Act, 2017, which extends the deposit protection provisions to include other payments, such as those made for upgrades and extras.

Following extensive public feedback earlier this year, these changes will help bring deposit coverage in line with today’s new home market.

Coverage for down payments on condominium dwelling units will remain unchanged since these units benefit from significant protection under the trust provisions of the Condominium Act, which require all monies paid towards the purchase price to be held in trust. Additionally, deposits made for condominium purchases are protected up to $20,000 by Tarion.

For those looking to purchase converted condominiums, changes to the Ontario New Home Warranties Program mean that their units will now have warranty coverage. These developments, referred to as residential condominium conversion projects, or RCCPs, turn existing buildings into condos that incorporate some of the existing building’s more interesting features (e.g., large windows, framing, brick walls) into the design.

RCCPs will benefit from the same statutory warranty coverage extended to all condominium projects, including deposit protection, delayed occupancy coverage and the one-, two- and seven-year warranties. There is one exception: the first year warranty on work and materials will not apply to pre-existing elements (e.g., a foundation or exterior cladding). Under the new regulations, builders of condominium conversion projects and vendors selling units in these projects must also be registered with Tarion.

To learn more about the expanded protections, new homebuyers are encouraged to visit Tarion.com



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Tarion Report: Your Opinion Matters

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Tarion Report: Your Opinion Matters

Tarion Surveys New Condo Owners

When you’re in the market for a new condo, you tend to do a lot of research, including asking friends, family and colleagues about their experiences. Once you’ve been through the buying process yourself, you can in turn share your insights and opinions with someone else looking for this same advice.

Collecting this type of first-hand knowledge is exactly what Tarion’s new home owner survey is all about.

Every fall, Tarion surveys new condo and home owners across the province about their buying and homeownership experience. The survey questions cover things like the Agreement of Purchase and Sale, their builder’s level of customer service before and after moving into their home, their understanding of their warranty and their satisfaction with Tarion.

This year, Tarion will send out more than 50,000 surveys to consumers who moved into a new home or condo between October 1, 2016 and September 30, 2017. To ensure as many homeowners as possible can participate, the survey is offered online in English, French, Mandarin, Farsi and Punjabi.

As a new condo owner, your opinion matters. Tarion provides information and advice to home and condo owners throughout the buying process as well as after they take possession. The survey helps to inform Tarion about how they’re doing so that they can continually improve their customer service.

Rest assured, your feedback can lead to tangible results. For example, in response to consumer input, Tarion has added new features to their MyHome portal that allows homeowners to manage their warranty online and introduced a new MyHome Planner app to help with the new home and condo buying process.

But Tarion’s not the only one who wants to know what you think – your builder does too. That’s why the survey asks questions such as: Were there any issues with your new home or condo? Did the builder listen and address them in a timely way?

Where Tarion receives enough completed surveys, builders are given detailed (but anonymous) reports with their scores and Tarion then follows up to help them determine how they can improve their customer service.

Through the survey, you also help choose the recipients of Tarion’s Homeowners’ Choice Awards. Both finalists and recipients of these awards have this recognition added to their record in the Ontario Builder Directory (on Tarion.com) for everyone to see. This can help future new home or condo buyers when they are doing their research to find a builder.

If you have taken possession of a new condo in the past year, look out for the Tarion survey. It only takes a few minutes to complete, and your responses will help improve customer service for new home and condo owners across Ontario.

To search for a builder in the Ontario Builder Directory, visit Tarion.com.

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