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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Click here to download the full episode. When purchasing a new home, building a good relationship with your builder is a major key to success. After all, the new home warranty is provided by the builder, and Tarion will always advise you to contact your builder before calling us when an issue arises. But what happens if you and your builder don’t agree? There are three different ways that Tarion may be able to help resolve warranty disputes between owners and builders.
1. Early Intervention
In many cases, a dispute begins because the new home owner and builder disagree about aspects of the builder’s warranty coverage obligations. For example, the owner feels that an item is covered by the warranty, but the builder does not.
In an early intervention, Tarion will step in to re-establish communication between the owner and the builder and help the parties work together to identify, understand and resolve issues.
In an early intervention, Tarion will step in to re-establish communication between the owner and the builder and help the parties work together to identify, understand and resolve issues. The process may be conducted in person at the owner’s home or at Tarion’s office, but it can also be done by phone or by email. When the issues in question are very complex, that can make it even tougher for the parties to see eye-to-eye. In these situations, early intervention may help with getting the relationship back on track. There are a couple of other situations in which early intervention by Tarion may be appropriate:
- If communication has broken down between the parties; or
- There is a concern that one of the parties is not acting in good faith.
Early interventions may be requested by either the owner or the builder. This request would typically be made during the builder repair period, after the owner has submitted a warranty form. It could also be made between form submission timelines, but not after the warranty has expired. We recommend that you submit a request for early intervention in writing. This will help ensure that Tarion has the information we need to assist effectively. This request may be made via email to email@example.com, and should be addressed to the Director of Customer Service at Tarion.
While early interventions can be very helpful to facilitate dispute resolution between owners and builders, the Tarion staff carrying them out will not perform inspections or make any determinations regarding warranty coverage. For this type of assistance from Tarion, there’s a separate process called conciliation. In this process, Tarion acts as an independent and impartial decision maker to assess whether the items on a home owner’s warranty form are covered by the warranty. In most cases, Tarion will send a Warranty Services Representative to the home to conduct a conciliation inspection. The builder’s representative will also be invited to attend. Both the home owner and the builder will be able to provide the information and documents they want Tarion to consider when making warranty assessments, such as the purchase agreement, photos and correspondence. After completing the inspection, Tarion will send a report, called the Warranty Assessment Report, to the owner and builder setting out Tarion’s assessment of whether the items on the owner’s warranty form are covered by the warranty and require resolution by the builder. After the report is sent out, the builder has 30 days to resolve warranted items. At the end of that 30-day period, Tarion will follow up with the owner to confirm that warranted items have been resolved. If they haven’t, Tarion will step in to resolve the warranted items directly with the owner. If you’re thinking of requesting a conciliation, there are a few things you should know:
- After a form has been submitted on time to Tarion, the builder has a 120-day repair period during which they may resolve outstanding items.
- After this repair period ends, the owner has 30 days to request a conciliation by Tarion.
- If the owner does not request a conciliation during that 30-day period, the items on the warranty form are deemed to be withdrawn and Tarion will not be able to assist in resolving them.
- The easiest way to request a conciliation is online through MyHome, which can be accessed on Tarion’s website or via our MyHome Mobile app.
- Prior to setting your inspection date, you will be asked to pay a conciliation fee. This fee may later be returned to you by Tarion if one or more of the items on your form is assessed by Tarion as warranted, or if you cancel your inspection within 24 hours of the scheduled time.
We recommend that you prepare for a conciliation inspection. Review your warranty form and be ready to point out the items and explain your concerns to Tarion. Take the time to gather your supporting information and documents. And be sure to read through Tarion’s Guide to Your New Home Warranty, which provides an overview of your new home warranty as well as some details about the conciliation process.
A third dispute resolution process that is currently being piloted by Tarion is mediation. In this process, a trained mediator from Tarion will act as a neutral third party to help facilitate resolution of issues creating conflict between an owner and a builder. Tarion may recommend mediation during the builder repair period after a warranty form is submitted, during the 30-day period after a conciliation has been requested, or after a Warranty Assessment Report has been issued. Mediation may be conducted in person, by phone or by email. A Tarion mediator is not permitted to:
- Take sides;
- Make a warranty assessment; or
- Give an opinion as to what the parties should or should not agree to.
Instead, their focus will be on helping to find a resolution that is acceptable to both parties.
Dispute resolution for condominium common element items
The timelines and processes discussed above apply to warranty claims made by a home owner or condominium unit owner. For issues in the common elements of a condominium project – such as a problem with a parking garage or rooftop pool – dispute resolution processes can be very different. We will address dispute resolution for common elements in a future episode of Tarion Talks but, in the meantime, you can get more information on this topic by contacting Tarion at 1-877-9-TARION (1-877-982-7466), or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Preventing disputes before they start
Many of the disputes we see are ones that began with ineffective communication between the builder and the home owner. For this episode, our podcast guests from the Warranty Services team shared a few pointers that you can use to communicate more successfully with your builder:
- As a home owner, help the builder understand what your concerns and expectations are.
- Listen actively to the builder and pay close attention to what they are offering.
- Make sure you follow through on your own obligations – such as deadlines – throughout the warranty process, as this will likely help your builder to provide better assistance when you contact them.
- Be patient – assessing items, ordering materials and arranging for repairs to resolve warranty items takes time and the warranty process gives the builder time to do that. Showing patience and understanding will help to ensure a respectful and positive relationship with your builder.
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.