Pre-Delivery Myths for Home Buyers
There is a lot of false information out there about the PDI (Pre-delivery Inspection) and having a Home Inspector.
Most problems stem from lack of knowledge or resulting from deliberate misinformation provided by builders.
Tarion was set up by the Ontario government in 1976 to administer a statutory warranty for homes built by registered builders. Here are some common complaints about Tarion:
- When consumers try to appeal Tarion’s decisions at a tribunal, they often find Tarion sends its own lawyers to testify against them.
- Tarion has a monopoly on home warranties. It reports to the Ontario consumer ministry, but it can’t be investigated by the Auditor General or the Ontario Ombudsman.
- Many consumers have discovered concealed defects after the 2-year warranty has expired or found that their defects did not fit the narrow definition of a “major structural defect” and they had to pay for defects on their own, caused by a Tarion-licensed builder. And no record of this is kept on the builder’s Tarion record.
- In the absence of any penalty or consequence by the “regulator” of the industry to builders who short-cut in workmanship or materials and cause construction defects, there is no deterrent for shoddy building practices. This might explain why we continue to see so much of this in new home/condo construction.
- It’s no secret the building industry has several hugely powerful and affluent lobby groups, and they are by far the largest contributors to political re-election campaigns. Not only that, but the President of the Liberal Party of Ontario is a Tarion Senior VP, and the Tarion board is builder-heavy with 8 builders appointed by one of the most powerful lobby groups: the Ontario Home Builders Association (OHBA).
- Not one consumer advocate sits on Tarion’s board. Not one.
Why is the PDI so important? “It is the formal record of the homes condition before the purchaser takes possession”, quoted from Tarion Website. Failure to note a deficiency on your PDI report could make you liable for repairs down the road. Builders are not created equal and everyone of them has a different outlook on the proper way to conduct a PDI of your new home.
I personally have heard many Builder Representatives tell new Home Buyers, not to worry about a defect, but to just put it on their 30 day list for Tarion. When a new Home Buyer listens to this type of advice from a Builders Representative they are leaving themselves open to financial loss. Home owners have contacted me regarding scratches in hardwood and damaged finishes that were not included in their PDI and when added to their 30 day list, were rejected because items were not identified during PDI.
Thinking of buying a new home, you can’t rely on information on Tarion’s Website! Go to the subdivision you are planning to purchase in and knock on doors, ask the home owners what their experience was like? You will be surprised how open people are about how their builder treated them. If your subdivision is not yet started, go find another where they have previously built homes, you could save your self a lot of heartache.
I was refused entry into a subdivision in Innisfil ON where I had been contracted to perform a PDI for a home buyer. The builders representative would not allow me to perform inspection, even though according to Tarion’s own website this is permitted. I did in fact perform the inspection as soon as buyer took possession. There were issues with the windows in the home which was noted. When I was leaving a neighbor was walking down the street and I stopped to talk to her. I asked her if she had experience any problems with her windows, to which she replied; “yes, we had problems with every window in our home, and they are still not fixed.”
There are some builders out there in Ontario who will not allow the home buyer to bring in a Professional Home Inspector during the PDI process, even though the Tarion Warranty Program specifically states you can. From Tarion website; “The minimum customer service standard allows a purchaser to attend the PDI with a designate or appoint a designate to attend the PDI in his/her place. There is no restriction as to who the designate may be, so a professional home inspector or any other person is permitted to attend the PDI either with the purchaser or in their place as a designate.”
Ideally you would ask your builder prior to signing any Purchase Agreement what their position is on having a Home Inspector present during your PDI. If they will not allow you to bring a Home Inspector with you, maybe you should be looking for a better builder who is compliant with Tarion and their policies.
Canadian Home Inspection Industry Still in Turmoil: Consumers Beware! – from Canadians for Properly Built Homes
Unfortunately for consumers, the Canadian home inspection industry continues to be largely unregulated. CPBH hears regularly from consumers wondering about who is qualified to inspect their home. CPBH also hears from consumers who have had a negative experience with a home inspector. Given the ongoing problems in the new home construction industry, we suggest that all homes, whether resale or newly built, be inspected by a qualified private home inspector before the consumer takes possession. Further, for newly built homes, we suggest hiring a qualified private home inspector to inspect at key points during construction, e.g., before the drywall goes up. The homeowner needs to have this right to inspect during written in their purchase contract with the builder before the contract with the builder is signed.
Many Consumers Associations and Home Buyers want to see the Tarion Home Warranty program come under the oversight of the Ontario Ombudsman. Tarion self regulating organization conceived by the Ontario Government. Almost half of the key management of Tarion Corporation is appointed from the Ontario Home Builders Association. These is like putting the fox in charge of supervising the chickens. If you are not happy with Tarion’s findings your only recourse is expensive legal action.
MPP Jagmeet Singh has tabled a private members bill – Bill 60, the Tarion Accountability and Oversight Act, would bring it under the jurisdiction of both the Ombudsman and Auditor General, as well as clarify Tarion’s primary role as a consumer protection agency.
According to CFPBH, “far too many Ontarians are suffering needlessly as a result of serious issues with their newly built homes. These issues typically include Ontario Building Code violations, an unresponsive builder and an unresponsive warranty provider — Tarion
Karen Somerville, president of the advocacy group Canadians for Properly Built Homes is hopeful recommendations will transform the governance of Tarion, which she claims has been unduly influenced by builders and developers at the expense of home buyers seeking recovery from defectively built properties. “It needs to be truly a consumer-oriented organization with much, much less influence from the Ontario Home builders Association and from builders and developers,” she says. “That goes to the heart of the governance issues with Tarion.”
It would also force Tarion to disclose all of its detailed performance-related information concerning builders.
Consumers should be concerned that they get a better warranty from a $20.00 toaster, made in China, than they can receive from Tarion Warranty Corp on the biggest and most important investment that most families will make. The next time a Provincial Politician knocks on your door, ask them about this amazing fact that seems to fly in the face of what government is all about.