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How to research your new home purchase

(NC)—Buying a newly built home from a builder is different than purchasing a resale home. Your attention should be placed not only on the home itself, but also on the reputation of the builder.

All builders in Ontario must be registered with Tarion Warranty Corporation and all new homes in Ontario come with a warranty that lasts seven years from the date of the first possession. That warranty is guaranteed by Tarion. The warranty ensures homeowners receive homes that are constructed in a workmanlike manner, free from defects and constructed in accordance with the Ontario Building Code. There are many reputable builders in Ontario that will freely offer this information to any potential purchaser. A buyer should be suspicious of a builder who does not want to discuss the mandatory new home warranty.

The first step in your research should be to find out whether your builder is registered. This can be done by visiting and clicking on “Ontario Builder Directory.” Every registered builder in Ontario is listed in this database. It shows a 10-year history that includes chargeable conciliations and the number and amounts of certain claims paid by Tarion.

A chargeable conciliation occurs if a builder and a homeowner disagree about whether an item is covered under the Ontario new home warranty program and, after an inspection by Tarion, the item is found to have been covered under the warranty. Claims refer to situations where the builder did not resolve a homeowner claim and Tarion stepped in to work directly with the homeowner, either by making repairs or providing a cash settlement.  You may want to consider these numbers in comparison to the number of homes the builder has built over the years. This number is listed in the database as “number of possessions.”

The directory also 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.

You will also find a list of builders who are no longer registered with Tarion. The directory will confirm whether a builder's registration has expired or whether Tarion has revoked their registration or refused to renew it.

Once you've confirmed that your builder is registered and checked out their listing on the directly, the next step is to ask around. You may want to go to neighbourhoods where this builder has built homes and inquire about homeowners' experiences. You can also ask for references. Speaking to other homeowners will give you a good indication of whether the builder stands behind his/her construction and is attentive to customers.

Finally, if you don't find your builder listed in Tarion's database, or if he or she gives you any reason not to offer the mandatory new home warranty, call Tarion at 1-877-9-TARION.

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Attention Editors: Please note that this article is for use in Ontario only.

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