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COVID-19 Pandemic Response: Information for Builders

Tarion is committed to keeping you informed as we continue to work through this evolving situation created by COVID-19. The information below is intended to help answer your questions. As more information becomes available, we will continue to update this page. 

July 6, 2020 Update

The Government of Ontario’s Emergency Order that suspends certain statutory limitation periods (including warranty submission timelines, requests for conciliation and builder repair periods) under the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act is in place until September 11, 2020.  As the COVID-19 restrictions have been gradually eased and more businesses are resuming operations however, Tarion has carefully considered the ongoing impacts of delaying repairs on both homeowners and builders and has determined that it should exercise its discretion to re-start inspections and reinstate timelines.

For more information on the impact of these measures, please see the Warranty Alert on COVID-19 & Reinstatement of Repair Periods and the other advisories posted below. 

If you have further questions about the information provided or your situation, please contact our Customer Service team at 1-877-982-7466 or email covid19@tarion.com.

General Advisories

Resources for Builders

FAQ for Home Builders regarding COVID-19

  1. Why are repair periods being reinstated when the Emergency Order is still in place?
  2. When will I be obligated to complete repairs?
  3. How does the re-starting of builder repair periods apply to a repair agreement that was entered into with a homeowner before the Emergency Order suspended timelines?
  4. What if I want to try to do repairs during the remobilization period but a homeowner refuses to allow my reps or tradespeople into their home?
  5. What if a homeowner refuses to allow my reps or tradespeople into their home after builder repair periods have resumed?
  6. How should I handle emergencies?
  7. Are builders going to be required to compensate homeowners if they pay an outside source for repairs during the remobilization period?
  8. Can builders do repairs before the repair periods are reinstated if all parties agree?
  9. Are the interim CSS measures still planned to take effect?
  10. When will Tarion be re-starting in-person inspections?
  11. How will Tarion handle the backlog of inspections due to the COVID-19 outbreak?
  12. How will chargeability be assessed?
  13. Why has the conciliation fee for homeowners been waived until the end of the year?
  14. How will the reinstatement of repair periods affect timelines regarding seasonal items?
  15. How will this affect timelines regarding special seasonal items?
  16. Does the resumption of timelines mean that I can no longer declare a new unavoidable delay?
  17. Does the resumption of timelines trigger the remobilization phase and Second Notice for the Unavoidable Delay provisions of the addendum?
  18. What happens if I don’t want to do a Pre-Delivery Inspection due to health concerns?
  19. What should builders do if a purchaser insists they can't close due to COVID-19? Does the builder have to return the deposit in this case? Especially when they have chosen all of the material of this new build.
  20. Can a purchaser refuse occupancy as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak?
  21. Can a purchaser not close on an interim closing during the orders due to COVID-19 outbreak reasons?
  22. Will I be able to get an occupancy inspection for my completed home/condo?
  23. Are there formal standards set in place for how "sanitized" a home is upon delivery?
  24. Can a condo owner get an extension on the 30-day form deadline, if they did take interim occupancy, but did not move in due to the outbreak?
  25. Can we still mail in cheques to pay enrolment fees?
  26. If a builder has bonding money and has a reduced number of units that will move forward this year, how can we request a portion of this security to be returned?
  27. How would a builder go about requesting changing their bonding/security arrangement?
  28. My licence is due to expire, do I still need to renew it?

 

Why are repair periods being reinstated when the Emergency Order is still in place?

The Government of Ontario’s Emergency Order suspending certain statutory limitation periods (including warranty submission timelines, requests for conciliation and builder repair periods) under the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act is in place until September 11, 2020. As the COVID-19 restrictions have been gradually eased and more businesses are resuming operations however, Tarion has carefully considered the ongoing impacts of delaying repairs on both homeowners and builders and has determined that it should exercise its discretion to reinstate timelines and re-start inspections sooner.

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When will I be obligated to complete repairs?

Builders will have 45 days beginning July 13 to remobilize trades, supplies and staff and organize scheduling before repair periods are reinstated on August 27, 2020. This remobilization period applies to repairs on freehold homes, condo units and common elements claims. During this 45-day remobilization period, it is Tarion’s expectation that builders will continue to respond to warranty issues related to emergencies and health and safety – including water penetration, radon, mould, structural issues.

Builder repair periods for forms that were submitted between March 16 and August 26, 2020 will commence on August 27, 2020. Post-conciliation repair reports for Warranty Assessment Reports issued during this same time period will also commence on August 27, 2020.

For forms that were submitted before March 16, builder repair periods will resume on August 27, 2020 at the point at which they were suspended. For example, if a repair period was suspended at day 21 of a builder repair period, the balance of the repair period will resume on August 27th, at day 22.

If builders have any questions about their specific circumstance, they should contact Tarion’s customer service team at 1-877-982-7466 or email covid19@tarion.com.

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How does the re-starting of builder repair periods apply to a repair agreement that was entered into with a homeowner before the Emergency Order suspended timelines?

Builders will have 45 days beginning July 13 to remobilize trades, supplies and staff and organize scheduling before repair periods are reinstated on August 27, 2020. The remobilization period also applies to repair agreements currently in place between homeowners or condo corporations and builders. As with all other repair periods, the repair timeline will resume at the point at which it was suspended.

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What if I want to try to do repairs during the remobilization period but a homeowner refuses to allow my reps or tradespeople into their home?

It is important that builders and homeowners have clear lines of communication around health concerns and what health and safety precautions will be followed and how they will be followed when doing repairs. Tarion has provided health and safety guidance for service repairs here. If, however, a homeowner is not comfortable allowing access to their home for repairs prior to re-starting of repair periods on August 27, 2020, it will not be considered denied access.

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What if a homeowner refuses to allow my reps or tradespeople into their home after builder repair periods have resumed?

If a homeowner is not comfortable allowing access to their home for repairs due to health concerns then we would encourage you to contact Tarion, so we can assist with facilitating a resolution to the concern.

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How should I handle emergencies?

Builders are advised to continue to follow the emergency processes outlined in Builder Bulletin 42 and Builder Bulletin 49. If homeowners or builders have any questions about their specific circumstance, they should contact Tarion’s customer service team at 1-877-982-7466 or email covid19@tarion.com.

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Are builders going to be required to compensate homeowners if they pay an outside source for repairs during the remobilization period?

No, non-emergency repairs would not qualify as essential.

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Can builders do repairs before the repair periods are reinstated if all parties agree?

Yes. We would encourage builders and homeowners to work together to proceed with repairs where they can be done safely while adhering to Government of Ontario health and safety and physical distancing guidelines. We have provided guidance for repairs here. It is Tarion’s position that both parties need to agree to the conditions under which the repairs would be carried out. If homeowners do not allow a builder to do repairs during this time it will not be considered denied access.

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Are the interim CSS measures still planned to take effect?

In light of the COVID-19 outbreak and the Government of Ontario’s Emergency Orders which suspended statutory deadlines, the timing of implementation will be reassessed.

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Inspections

When will Tarion be re-starting in-person inspections?

Tarion will start scheduling in-person inspections beginning July 13. Inspections will take place under strict protocols based on the health and safety guidelines endorsed by the Government of Ontario. These protocols will include the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and physical distancing where possible. Details on these protocols will be shared with all parties in advance of the inspection.

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How will Tarion handle the backlog of inspections due to the COVID-19 outbreak?

In order to assist homeowners whose repair periods expired prior to March 16th and to alleviate the backlog due to COVID-19,Tarion has been offering these homeowners the option of having their conciliation via virtual inspection (depending upon the type of issue). We will continue to use virtual inspections as a tool to facilitate resolution to issues, and to make assessment where appropriate in order to assist with addressing the backlog. To see Tarion’s advisory on virtual inspections, click here.

We will also be working to reschedule previously postponed in-person conciliations and inspections at the earliest possible date beginning on July 13. We will have a dedicated team that will begin undertaking inspections on warranty issues in which the builder repair period expired before March 16. In August, we will broaden our approach to take on more routine inspections. In order to limit risks for our employees, homeowners and builder representatives, Tarion Warranty Services Representatives will only be permitted to do one onsite inspection/meeting per day.

During the remobilization period, it is Tarion’s expectation that builders will continue to respond to warranty issues related to emergencies and health and safety – including water penetration, radon, mould, structural issues.

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How will chargeability be assessed?

Chargeability for all files affected by the suspension of timelines will be assessed at the time of the claim inspection. This would include all files which were in the middle of their builder repair periods, or where forms were submitted up until September 11, 2020. There will be no blanket exception applied. The processes set out in Builder Bulletin 20 will continue to apply but will be assessed at the time of the claim inspection.

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Why has the conciliation fee for homeowners been waived until the end of the year?

We have waived the conciliation fees for the remainder of the year due to the extended length of the emergency period and in recognition of the financial impact it has had on some homeowners.

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How will the reinstatement of repair periods affect timelines regarding seasonal items?

Repair periods for seasonal items will resume on August 27, 2020 and will be extended to November 15, 2020. If builders require further extensions to complete seasonal work, they can request it under the Extraordinary Situation provisions of Builder Bulletin 42.

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How will this affect timelines regarding special seasonal items?

Repair periods for special seasonal items begin May 1 and end November 15 each year. Builders will have 270 seasonal weather days from the date that a warranty form was filed to complete work on special seasonal items. Repair periods for warranty forms with special seasonal items submitted prior to March 16, 2020 will resume on August 27, 2020 at the point at which they were paused on November 15, 2019 (the last day of the seasonal weather period). For example, if a repair period for special seasonal work was at day 150 on November 15, 2019, it will resume on August 27, 2020 at day 151. For forms filed during the emergency period (March 16 up to August 26), the special seasonal repair period will commence on August 27, 2020. If builders require further extensions to complete special seasonal work, they can request it under the Extraordinary Situation provisions of Builder Bulletin 42.

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Unavoidable Delays, Closings, and PDIs

Does the resumption of timelines mean that I can no longer declare a new unavoidable delay?

No, the COVID-19 outbreak could have different impacts resulting in an unavoidable delay on the delivery dates of different homes depending on a number of factors (unrelated to the resumption of timelines). For example:

  1. The stage of construction.
  2. What, if any, trades, suppliers, employees, governmental approvals are affected, including government site closure orders.
  3. How quickly the labour, supplier and/or governmental approvals return to normal.
  4. Problems related to disrupted trades/supply chains.
  5. Potential that trade backlogs in turn cause backlogs for government inspections.
  6. Possible impact of trade delays and backlog delays pushing back construction into unseasonable weather.

For further information on COVID-19 and unavoidable delays, please see the Q&A on COVID-19: Unavoidable Delay & Critical Dates.

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Does the resumption of timelines trigger the remobilization phase and Second Notice for the Unavoidable Delay provisions of the addendum?

No. The determinations for each stage of the process for extending Critical Dates due to Unavoidable Delay must be done on a case-by-case basis by the vendor.

The timing of remobilization and the Second Notice for Unavoidable Delays should not be governed by whether the ‘outbreak” itself continues or whether the Government of Ontario’s emergency order is still in place. The COVID-19 outbreak is the Unavoidable Delay event and it is the impacts of the outbreak on the delivery of the home (including the remobilization period) which determine when the Second Notice can go out. For example, if the vendor has made the assessment of the impacts and believes the impediments to closing are removed, it is permissible to send out the Second Notice -- even if the emergency order has not yet been lifted or even after it has been lifted -- so long as the order itself does not prevent or impact the delivery of the home.

Do not send out the Second Notice until you are ready. You must take this exercise seriously and act prudently but reasonably in assessing the extra time needed. The Unavoidable Delay provisions of the Addendum give the builder a one-time opportunity to extend Critical Dates by the total period of the delay but does not provide for multiple opportunities to do this for the same unavoidable delay event. That is why it is so important to monitor the length of the impacts of the outbreak, take the time to figure out the anticipated additional delay (Remobilization Period) and then send the Second Notice once you have a reasonable level of comfort that the extra time you have added on to the construction schedule will be sufficient.

For further information on COVID-19 and unavoidable delays, please see the Q&A on COVID-19: Unavoidable Delay & Critical Dates.

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What happens if I don’t want to do a Pre-Delivery Inspection due to health concerns?

Given the current public health situation, we do not consider it absolutely necessary that the PDI occur prior to a closing in the presence of both the builder and the homeowner. However, it is reasonable that in-person PDIs can happen if participants adhere to provincial health and safety and physical distancing guidelines. It is Tarion’s position that both parties need to agree to the conditions under which the PDI would be carried out.

In order to assist homeowners and builders who wish to conduct an in-person PDI, Tarion has put together guidelines available here. Please note that this guidance provides basic information only and is not intended to take the place of public health advice, nor does it constitute legal advice. We recommend that builders and homeowners consult with their legal advisors for any questions regarding risk or liability, and that they monitor current health advice issued by the province.

In the event that one or both parties do not consent to an in-person PDI, we recommend that builders and homeowners each conduct their own separate reviews of the home. Builders should complete their own review of the home or unit prior to turnover and document the condition of the home. The homeowner should conduct their own “delivery” inspection as soon as reasonably possible after taking possession. The homeowner should document as best they can (including photos and/or video) any missing/incomplete items or damages which they discover and believe were caused prior to when they took possession. While the emergency orders are in place, Tarion has no authority to compel a builder to conduct a PDI with the homeowner present nor to insist that a homeowner participate in a PDI in the presence of a builder.

The records of the homeowner and builder can serve as evidence of the state of the home close to occupancy and may be helpful in the event a dispute arises later as to whether an item of damage was caused by the homeowner or builder.

The PDI form is not a Tarion claim form, so if an item is not noted on the PDI form this does not necessarily impact its warranty coverage. If a homeowner notes an item on their 30-day form which is not on the PDI, the item noted will still form part of their warranty claim. The fact that it was not listed on the PDI will be relevant if is an item of damage such as a chip in a countertop that may have occurred after possession. In this case, it will be helpful for the homeowner to show that they noted the damage as close to taking delivery of the home as possible as noted above, in the event that the claim is not remedied by the builder and the matter comes to Tarion for resolution.

We urge all parties to approach the occupancy of the home and handling of the PDI in a reasonable way in light of the current health situation in the province.

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What should builders do if a purchaser insists they can't close due to COVID-19? Does the builder have to return the deposit in this case? Especially when they have chosen all of the material of this new build.

The terms of closing are set out in each Agreement of Purchase and Sale and are contractual matters between the homeowner and builder. We realize this is an unprecedented situation. But we know it’s in everyone’s best interest to work together to complete these closings, so we are asking builders to consider the impacts of the outbreak on their purchasers to see if there’s a fair and reasonable agreement that can be reached. We would also suggest that you speak to your lawyer to review your agreement.

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Can a purchaser refuse occupancy as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak?

These are truly unprecedented times and we encourage you to be fair and reasonable when buyers have concerns surrounding COVID-19 . If the issue is with the safety of the home itself, builders may want to consider what avenues may help their buyers feel safe. We encourage you to keep the lines of communication open and find a reasonable solution that gets to the heart of your buyers’ concerns. We know it’s in everyone’s best interest to work together to complete these closings as quickly and safely as possible.

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Can a purchaser not close on an interim closing during the orders due to COVID-19 outbreak reasons?

The terms of closing are set out in each Agreement of Purchase and Sale and are contractual matters between the homeowner and builder. We know it’s in everyone’s best interest to work together to complete these closings, so we are asking builders to consider the impacts of the outbreak on their purchasers to see if there’s a fair and reasonable agreement that can be reached. Builders and homeowners should consult legal advice.

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Will I be able to get an occupancy inspection for my completed home/condo?

Each municipality has set its own service level and safety protocols, so builders need to contact the applicable municipal building department in advance in order to be prepared.

Builders should also take care to familiarize themselves with the health and safety measures each municipality has put in place for the preparation of inspections, as well as during the inspection itself. Failure to follow these heightened protocols could result in unexpected delays if inspections need to be rebooked.

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Are there formal standards set in place for how "sanitized" a home is upon delivery?

No. These are truly unprecedented times and we encourage you to be fair and reasonable when buyers have concerns surrounding the outbreak. If the issue is with the safety of the home itself, builders may want to consider what avenues may help their buyers feel safe. We encourage you to keep the lines of communication open and find a reasonable solution that gets to the heart of your buyers’ concerns. We know it’s in everyone’s best interest to work together to complete these closings as quickly and safely as possible.

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Can a condo owner get an extension on the 30-day form deadline, if they did take interim occupancy, but did not move in due to the outbreak?

Homeowners will have until September 11 to submit any warranty claim submissions (30-day, Year-End, Second-Year, Major Structural Defect, delayed closing, financial loss and deposit claims) due between March 16th and September 11.

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License Renewals and Securities

Can we still mail in cheques to pay enrolment fees?

For renewal or enrolment payments, builders should use the Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) feature available in Tarion’s builder portal, BuilderLink. We encourage builders who are not registered on BuilderLink, to set up an account. If you are already a BuilderLink user but do not have EFT permissions and would like to use this method to avoid any delays, please complete the Appointment of Administrator Form. Once you have been granted permissions, you will need to create your EFT Agreement in order for BuilderLink to know where funds are being withdrawn from and agree to have your banking information validated. Once done, there is a 5-7 business day (bank dependent) processing period before you can use this method of payment. Should you have any questions, kindly email builderlink@tarion.com for more information.

If it is not possible to use electronic funds transfer, builders may send cheques via mail, but should be aware they may encounter processing delays.

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If a builder has bonding money and has a reduced number of units that will move forward this year, how can we request a portion of this security to be returned?

Questions about security arrangements, should be sent to the L&U analyst on file or emailed to L&U@tarion.com.

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How would a builder go about requesting changing their bonding/security arrangement?

Questions about security arrangements, should be sent to the L&U analyst on file or emailed to L&U@tarion.com.

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My licence is due to expire, do I still need to renew it?

Builders are still encouraged to submit renewals on time through BuilderLink or mail, but if they miss their renewal deadline, their registration will not automatically expire. Renewal notices may still be auto-generated via BuilderLink.

This will not apply to builders whose renewals have been refused or whose licences have been previously revoked.

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