There’s often a misconception that if you purchase a newly constructed home / condominium, or if you are having one custom built for you, that all will be fine. After all, municipal building officials will be inspecting the work and if you are acquiring a newly built home in Ontario, it will be covered under the New Home Warranties Plan Act with Tarion.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t always turn out the way you might hope. Inspections by municipal building officials ensure that there is compliance in meeting minimum building code standards. They do compliance testing, not detailed step by step substantive testing. It does not look out for or enforce those items you requested be part of the house or that were contracted for.
The Tarion new home warranty while covering plenty is not intended to cover all situations. It also has staggered coverage over a limited time period. It does not apply to renovations, alterations, additions or a house that you build yourself (e.g. where you are the general contractor) unless you choose to purchase that optional coverage.
Take for example the pictures shown above: The poor installation and placement of a window (top left). An attic with missing insulation can cause problems with ice damning, condensation and mould not to mention higher energy costs (middle). Not making a foundation wall wide enough to support the exterior brick (right).
While some of the concerns in these pictures arguably might have been caught by the municipal building official or be part of the Tarion warranty coverage, the new homeowner will nevertheless be faced with the challenge of demonstrating who is at fault and why they should not bear the burden of any remediation. That’s if you even have that recourse available to you or if it’s a viable option for you to pursue in the first place. It also likely assumes that you have exhausted all your efforts with the builder / contractor in making things good first. As a last resort, if no one will step up to the plate you might consider costly litigation. Much of this will be dependent on the facts, whether you had great contract drawn up that details what was to be done by whom, by when, what materials / finishes were to be provided, etc., etc. etc.
Keep in mind that not all projects, renovations or alteration work require a building permit or inspections by municipal building officials either. Generally, all new electrical & new plumbing work will require permits as well as any gas work. Further, many do not take the time to get things properly documented in a contract either.
The other significant concern that is seldom talked about is whether you getting what you wanted and paid for? For example, did the contractor provide you with the quality of roof shingles or furnace that you thought you were buying. Did you even think to ask or know? Perhaps you asked for a certain quality / type item for your new home or renovation but another was mistakenly installed or out of view?
Hiring your own private inspector at the beginning of the process can assist you in many ways. They can review plans with your architect / builder / contractor and act as a second set of eyes offering ideas / suggestions for your consideration. They can review your contract in conjunction with your lawyer to see that certain specifics relating to the build are detailed in it to avoid problems down the road. They can carry out progress inspections tailored specifically to what want you might be concerned about and ensure that those things contracted for are being provided.
Having new construction, additions and renovation work inspected by your own private inspector that is acting as your advocate can go a long way in providing peace of mind while reducing exposure to the items discussed above. Protect yourself…get it inspected!