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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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Like a dog with a bone: Testing for VOCs
November 3, 2015
Like a dog with a bone: Testing for VOCs

New home warranty claims can sometimes be very difficult to resolve. Homeowners may be convinced that there is a problem with their new home, but they can’t always point to the problem or identify exactly what it is. This isn’t surprising of course since being a homeowner does not also make you a building expert. But sometimes, getting to the heart of a claim is even challenging for the experts.

His home had an odd smell. He believed – adamantly – that the smell was coming from his home’s hard wood flooring.

The dangers of VOCs

A while back, a homeowner of a recently constructed home contacted Tarion to pursue what he thought was a dangerous situation. His home had an odd smell. He believed – adamantly – that the smell was coming from his home’s hard wood flooring. In fact, he was convinced that the smell was toxic off-gassing and that it was making his home uninhabitable. The building industry refers to this sort of off-gassing as VOCs or ‘Volatile Organic Compounds’. Many products or materials in the modern age have VOCs. Products made with rubber, plastic, glue, foam, etc. are all VOC off-gassing sources. In high concentrations some VOCs can be dangerous to human health. So, when Tarion was contacted by this homeowner, we sent an independent 3rd party expert to inspect the situation.

As soon as the expert entered the home he smelled something strange. Not a familiar building VOC smell but definitely something in the air that didn’t smell quite right. Walking around the house, the inspector also noticed that many of the home’s rooms were empty. It was in fact a very large home – many thousands of square feet – with many empty rooms. Well, nearly empty. Some of these rooms had dog stools, and by that we don’t mean: “and here are the stools the dogs sit on” but rather “here are the rooms in which the dogs do their business”. Seriously. To compound this odiferous problem, some of the dogs’ business was old. Not as old as the dogs themselves of course but old enough to make you say: “EEWWW!”

VOCs were not be the Culprit

With tremendous diplomacy, the 3rd party expert suggested to the homeowner that perhaps what he was smelling wasn’t coming from the floor itself but rather from what the dogs had deposited on top of the floor. Technically, dog stool can be classified as a VOC. It is not, however, the kind of off-gassing problem that would involve the new home warranty.

Like a dog with a bone, the homeowner disagreed with our experts’ assessment. He remained convinced that the floor itself was the problem. So convinced, that he hired another company to come in and test the air throughout his home. Only when the results came back negative was there a reluctant acceptance of the fact that there was no VOC problem with the floor.

Having a home that is fit for human habitation is part of the new home warranty. Naturally, we take warranty concerns like this seriously but uncovering the cause of an issue is not always easy or straight-forward. That is true for homeowners and experts alike. Occasionally however the most obvious explanation is in fact the correct one.

Lesson Learned

Every situation needs to be treated seriously, but if it smells like dog poop and looks like dog poop, it’s a safe bet that what you’re smelling was a gift from Fido.

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Remember, if you have questions or are unsure of your new home warranty coverage, we’re here to help. You can contact Tarion by phone, email, in person or on our social media.

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.