Helping You Choose the Right Home Builder

When buying a new home, one of your first and most important decisions is making sure you choose the right builder.  We’d like to help make that decision a little easier.  We’ve recently rolled out a new Ontario Builder Directory, replacing the existing Licensed Builder Directory.  These changes are part of an ongoing process of identifying and providing information that helps consumers who are researching a new home builder.

Here’s what’s different: the directory continues to show a 10 year history for all builders, but the listings will now include builders who are no longer registered.  The directory will confirm whether a builder’s registration has expired or whether Tarion has revoked their registration or refused to renew it.  We think this is an important consumer protection tool, particularly in regards to illegal building, as many of our investigations are focused on builders who are no longer registered.  Buyers will now be able to quickly and easily confirm that those builders are no longer licensed to build homes in Ontario.

The directory shows if a builder has been a Tarion Award of Excellence finalist or winner in the past three years; a breakdown of the types of homes built over a 10-year span into freehold homes and condominium units; and lists the names of officers and directors for each company, providing links to companies that share the same officers and directors.  

The directory continues to show a 10-year history that includes chargeable conciliations and the number and amounts of certain claims paid by Tarion.  

A chargeable conciliation occurs when Tarion conducts a conciliation inspection and determines that one or more outstanding items are covered under the warranty but have not been resolved by the builder. We should note that there are a few exceptions, which you’ll find explained on our website.   As well, not all chargeable conciliations result in a claim paid, as builders have an opportunity to make a repair after the inspection.  

Homes with claims and dollars paid in claims refer to situations where the builder did not resolve a homeowner claim and Tarion stepped in to work directly with the homeowner to resolve the issue.  Buyers may want to consider these numbers in comparison to the number of new home possessions in the builder’s profile.

When buyers ask for advice on how to choose the right builder, I suggest they start their research by visiting the directory.   Buyers need to make sure that their builder is licensed, which means they have satisfied Tarion’s licensing criteria and have proven their technical and business competencies.   And the directory will give you a good idea of your builder’s past performance.

The next step is to ask around. You may want to walk around neighbourhoods where the builder has built and inquire about these homeowners’ experiences.  Speaking to other homeowners will give you a good indication of whether the builder stands behind his construction and is attentive to customers over the long term.  Most homeowners are happy to talk about their home and their builder.

You can also ask for references in online communities and social media platforms.  There are a number of active home-related sites where homeowners share experiences about everything from décor selections to construction delays and after-sales customer service.

If there’s one piece of advice I give most often to buyers who are just starting to think about a new home purchase, it’s RESEARCH!!  All too often I hear stories of buyers walking into a model home, being dazzled by the stylish décor and gleaming countertops and signing on the bottom line before researching who built that beautiful home.  Your home will most likely be the largest purchase of your life, so you owe it to yourself to take the time to thoroughly research your decision.

If you have questions about whether a builder is registered or about its customer service records, check out the new Ontario Builder Directory or call Tarion at 1-877-9-TARION.

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