The Open Door Blog
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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Buying a home will be one of the biggest decisions you’ll make. It requires thinking through a myriad of factors – location, schools, finances and so many more – that will have a real impact on your life.
But, with over 5,000 licensed new home builders in Ontario, you’ll have to do some more digging to find the one that fits your needs and expectations.
One of these factors is the quality of the home itself. Resale home buyers can figure this out by doing a thorough inspection of the physical home. But, for those in the market for a newly built home, it’s not so easy. For starters, there’s a strong chance the home you’re looking to buy has yet to be built at the time of purchase.
So, how can you be sure that what you’re buying meets your needs and standards? It begins with finding a reputable builder. But, with over 5,000 licensed new home builders in Ontario, you’ll have to do some more digging to find the one that fits your needs and expectations.
Here are five questions to help you find the right builder for you.
1. Are they listed in Tarion’s Ontario Builder Directory? Your very first step is to determine whether your builder is licensed to build new homes and condos in Ontario. The Ontario Builder Directory lists licensed builders and shares key information about their work, including:
- The number and location of homes they have built in the last 10 years;
- A 10-year warranty history including information about the number of possessions, claims, chargeable conciliations (a process where Tarion assesses the items on a homeowner's warranty form and decides whether they are covered under the warranty set out in the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act,) and dollars paid out in claims; and
- Recognition by homeowners of a builder’s customer service as either a finalist or a recipient of Tarion’s Homeowners' Choice Awards over the past three years.
2. What is your builder’s reputation online? Your builder’s presence online will give you a good sense of who your builder is and what others are saying about them. Start by visiting their website and take some time to review their social media accounts so you can learn more about:
- The neighbourhoods where they are building;
- Floor plans, unit layouts, finishes and special features they offer in their homes;
- Information about construction and customer service practices; and
- Helpful resources for purchasers and owners
- Also be sure to visit other online communities and social media platforms where homeowners share their experiences and feedback about the builder, their décor selections, construction delays, and after-sales customer service.
3. What sense do you get from your builder’s sales office and model homes/suites? Your builder’s sales office is another way to put a face to your builder’s company. It is also your chance to speak with a sales representative to answer any questions you may have and gather additional information about your builder. Before leaving the sales office, be sure to take any brochures or pamphlets to review at home.To get a closer look at the type of work your builder can do, be sure to walk through one of their model homes or suites. Doing so will give you a better sense of the quality of craftsmanship you can expect from your builder. Also, keep in in mind that the home or suite you’re visiting is intended to show off the builder’s best work. Clarify what furnishings are standard and which ones are considered upgrades.
4. What do previous buyers say about the builder? There is no truer way to get to know your builder than from the very people who have purchased and lived in one of their homes or condos. If you don’t know anyone personally who has purchased one of the builder’s newly built homes, spend a weekend afternoon visiting their previous builds. Take a walk around, and if you feel comfortable, talk to some of the homeowners. Some good questions to ask are:
- Are you satisfied with the quality of the home?
- What information were you provided at different stages of the buying process?
- Did you experience construction delays and how were they managed?
- Did they tell you about the new home warranty?
- Did you experience any issues with the home and how were they resolved?
- Was the builder responsive to service requests or inquiries?
5. What do your friends and family have to say? It’s likely you know someone who has recently bought a new home or condo. If you do, ask them about their experience – what worked, what didn’t, what they’ve learned and if they have any advice for you as you go through the process. Also be sure to ask about their builder.
Do you have a story or tip to share with us?
By sharing your story with us you can empower other homeowners with the information they need to choose the right builder to build their new home.
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.