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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You can see it now. The perfect music room. All you need is a little soundproofing so you don’t wake up the baby and a few structural changes for the right acoustics. Add in some extra outlets for your sound engineering gear and voila! Of course, you can’t wait to customize this little corner of your new home so it reflects your unique personality. You’ve watched all the fun DIY videos online and have your tools ready. But hold up!
Some renovations can put your warranty at risk.
Before you take that sledgehammer to the wall and turn your new home into a DIY extravaganza, think about your new home warranty. Some renovations can put your warranty at risk. First things first -- you can’t void the entire warranty on your new place unless you completely tear it down and build a new one. And that wasn’t your plan, right? Remember that the warranty that came with your new home covers the builder’s work and materials. So, if you decide to redo your entire bathroom, chances are it will be bye-bye bathroom warranty. Basically, you will not have warranty coverage for the work and materials you supply or for alterations you make to the builder’s work and materials. Here’s an example… You moved into your new home and the wall colours were blah so you painted the walls. But after you did that, the builder needed to make some wall repairs. Touching up the paint after the repairs were completed is not covered under the warranty. Why? The builder provided you with painted walls when he delivered your new home and that paint job was covered under the one-year warranty. But because you made changes to the builder’s work by repainting, that work no longer has warranty coverage. But this is something that can’t be said enough -- small projects you do will not put your entire warranty at risk!
Tips on how to protect your warranty
- Choose not to renovate.
- Renovate in stages. Do the work after the different warranties (one-year, two-year and seven-year) expire. To do this, you need to understand your warranty coverage.
- Hire a professional. If you let someone else do the work, they may complete the job with the least impact on the builder’s work and materials, which means less impact on your warranty. Another advantage of using a professional is they can offer their own warranty on their work. Also, there will be a record of exactly what was done in case you ever have a disagreement with your builder about claimed defects.
Now where did you say you wanted to put that music room? The basement? Here’s another reason you might want to put the brakes on that plan.
Basements need some alone time
You may want to leave the basement unfinished for at least the first year after you move in. Here’s why:
- Many building materials dry out, settle and even shrink in the first year.
- You can watch for cracks or leaks with no obstructions -- two-year warranty covers water penetration through the foundation or basement walls.
- Builder repairs may require removing drywall and any other obstructions.
- After repairs, the builder will not be responsible for replacing any work and material you supplied during your renovations or for personal property damage caused by leaks.
So let’s just say, patience is a virtue. Maybe waiting to create your own musical oasis might not be such a bad thing. And here are a few last tips…
Find out if your home is keeping secrets
If your new home is a re-sale that has a few miles on it but is still less than seven years old, you should find out from the original owner if there have been any renovations that may have impacted the warranty. Things to do:
- Ask your real estate agent for that information.
- Find out the extent of the renovations.
- Ask the contractors who did the renovations for records of the work done.
Look before you leap
Do some research before launching into any of the following renovation projects:
- Landscaping, adding a swimming pool or other yard features that may affect the grading -- changing the grading can lead to water penetration into your home;
- Adding electrical outlets – if you add outlets to an existing circuit you may overload the circuit.. We recommend you get a licensed professional to help you out with all the electrical work;
- Insulating cold cellars or blocking the cold cellar vent – this could cause moisture to build up, resulting in frost on exterior walls and mould on interior walls.
If you have questions or concerns, or if your builder says you did something that affected your warranty coverage and you have doubts, give us a call. While moving into your new home is exciting and you’re brimming with ideas on how to put your own personal stamp on it, proceed with caution to protect your home and your warranty.
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.