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Whether you own a new home or condo, are considering buying one, or just love to dream about it, the Open Door blog is here to share stories that can help you protect what is likely the biggest investment of your life.

The Open Door blog is published by Tarion, a non-profit corporation that administers Ontario’s New Home Warranty Plan and registers all new home builders in Ontario. Click here to learn more about us.

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How the Alberta fires struck home in Ontario
July 29, 2016
How the Alberta fires struck home in Ontario


The recent fire in Fort McMurray captured the attention of the world and the compassion and generosity of Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

Like all families in the devastated community, the Ansar family (not their real name) was forced to evacuate their home in Fort McMurray and seek safe shelter outside the burning city.

An uncertain situation

As it happens, the family had recently purchased a new home in Ontario, and had planned to move in early July. Upon leaving Fort McMurray they decided to check on the construction status of their new home. As they hurriedly left their home in Fort McMurray they were unaware that a strike by some construction trades in Ontario might impact their move-in date. When they found out about the strike, they also learned that their builder was anticipating a delay in completing their home.

As if their sleeplessness, stress and the worry of what was happening in Fort McMurray was not enough, the Ansar family was now faced with another problem: what would they do if their new home really was delayed? Initial, anxious appeals to the builder were not properly returned and that led to even more anxiety, frustration and concern. Finally, Mr. Ansar called Tarion. What could be done?

Evacuees line up to leave Fort McMurray. Image courtesy of Edmonton Journal (HO / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
Evacuees line up to leave Fort McMurray. Image courtesy of Edmonton Journal (HO / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Ontario’s new home warranty includes compensation if a builder does not meet certain deadlines in the agreement of purchase and sale. The compensation is intended to provide new home buyers with some limited reimbursement for accommodations or extra costs that are caused by the delay.

Determining the type of delay

Ontario’s new home warranty includes compensation if a builder does not meet certain deadlines in the agreement of purchase and sale. The compensation is intended to provide new home buyers with some limited reimbursement for accommodations or extra costs that are caused by the delay. The compensation is calculated at $150 per day plus reasonable expenses caused by the delay, up to a maximum of $7,500.

But there are caveats to this warranty. Delays caused by strike are considered “unavoidable.” As long as the builder follows the rules on how to claim an unavoidable delay, which includes notifying their buyers with specific information within specific timeframes, the compensation does not have to be paid since the delay was of no fault of the builder. Since the builder has no choice but to wait for these trades to resume work, occupancy or possession dates may be pushed back without any penalty under the warranty so long as the proper notice was given.

When is a delay truly “unavoidable”?

Of course, each individual home or building is unique and needs to be treated separately. For example, if framers go on strike (as they did in certain parts of the province) then a builder may clearly and understandably have their framing timelines delayed. An “unavoidable delay” would not likely apply if the home being constructed was already well past the framing stage at the time of the strike. In that case, it’s unlikely that a builder could use a framing strike as grounds for an unavoidable delay and the reason for missing an occupancy/possession date as written into the agreement of purchase and sale. In those circumstances, delay compensation may be owed to a purchaser.

Finding compassion in a difficult time

Just as each individual home and building is unique, so too are the families and the circumstances of those who buy them.

Enter Trudy, one of our Warranty Services representatives. Trudy reached out to the builder and shared the Ansar family’s concerns, but also shared with them the fact that they had just fled Fort McMurray. Understanding their difficult situation, the builder agreed to make extra efforts to get the Ansar family into their home in early July as originally planned.

While Trudy only made a call to the builder, she was pleased she could help this family given their extraordinary circumstances. To her surprise, Trudy also received a thank you note from the Ansars.

“I wanted to say thank you for your help and going over and above for us. We have been through a tough period with having to evacuate our home in Fort McMurray… but we are together and taking it one day at a time.”

Trudy is not the only member of Tarion’s staff that have helped the Fort McMurray fire evacuees.  Tarion’s staff raised $1,960.85 in May to support the Canadian Red Cross – Alberta Fires Emergency Appeal. Our thoughts continue go out to those who have been affected by the fires.

Lessons learned

  1. Canada is a big country and a caring community. “We are together and taking it one day at a time.”
  2. Strikes are outside a builders control and can lead to unavoidable delays under the Ontario warranty program. There are very clear rules about how builders are required to communicate unavoidable delays to home buyers. Read more about how a strike could impact your new home.
  3. If you are an Ontario new home buyer that was affected by the recent labour strikes, click to learn more about current strikes affecting the new home building Industry.

The goal of this blog is to provide you with general information about the warranty process by sharing real experiences from new homeowners. The blog should not be relied upon as legal advice. For privacy reasons, we will not address or resolve current cases in a public forum, so any comments or questions that are posted on this site that describe individual cases cannot be discussed. If you have a question about your warranty or Tarion generally, we would be pleased to discuss your issue, in the context of your particular circumstances and in confidence. We exercise reasonable care to avoid offensive, illegal or defamatory content from being posted, as well as comments that are intended solely for self-promotion or considered to be spam.

 

    

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