The beautiful interior to a dream home, showing a wooden spiral staircase

A couple’s dream home nightmare.

Tarion helps homeowners find some justice in an illegal building tragedy

John and Mary (not their real names) had a dream: to build a custom home where they could enjoy their retirement years. Finally on the cusp of realizing this dream, they hired two builders to build them their oasis – a brand new custom home to enjoy their retirement. Fast forward to today and you’ll find John and Mary living in a rented apartment, both have re-entered the workforce and their life savings of close to a million dollars is gone. How could this have happened?

A careful builder, holding a level up to a construction project

Generally, new home builders must be registered with Tarion to ensure they have the competence and financial capability to build a home from the ground up.

A million dollar investment and nothing to show for it.

It’s called illegal building.

There are laws in Ontario about who can build a new home. Generally, new home builders must be registered with Tarion to ensure they have the competence and financial capability to build a home from the ground up. If they don’t, they are building illegally. They must also provide a warranty on every home they build. This is the law and the rules are designed to better protect new home buyers. New home buyers suffer the most from illegal building. They can be left with sub-standard homes that can have serious health and safety violations or don’t meet the Ontario Building Code. Or, as in the case of John and Mary, it creates the risk of spending an entire life’s savings on a home that never gets finished.

Ignorance is not bliss.

John and Mary, like many new home buyers, were unaware that they were entitled to a new home warranty when they hired their builders. They put trust in their builders. When the builders continued to ask for more money to build the home, John and Mary provided it. The home was never completed. Like most victims of illegal builders, John and Mary eventually did some research to figure out where to go for help. That’s when they discovered Tarion.

A level and judge's gavel, representing the legal system Tarion uses to get justice on bad builders

After the judgment decision was made, John and Mary thanked Tarion for our help.

Bringing down the hammer on illegal builders.

Our team of investigators helped to prosecute John and Mary’s builders. The builders received significant fines and a jail sentence for their crime. John and Mary were eligible for a refund on their deposit and were given the maximum payment for deposits available from Tarion. Of course, it didn’t even begin to cover the damage or the hardship this ordeal caused in their lives. But, it was a start.

After the judgment decision was made, John and Mary thanked Tarion for our help. Their losses were not small: they lost their life savings, their dream home and were forced to delay retirement plans by the need to return to work to build up their savings again. But throughout this nightmare, they were relieved to have Tarion to help them see these criminals charged. It was a small measure of justice in a story filled with trauma and tragedy.

Lessons learned:

  1. Always use a registered builder. Check the Ontario Builder Directory at Tarion.com to make sure your builder is registered with Tarion.
  2. Make sure you have a written contract with your builder and check their references.
  3. Know your rights. The new home warranty includes deposit insurance, delayed closing compensation and warranties on almost everything inside and outside the home. Make sure you read the Homeowner Information Package to find out about the process for making a warranty claim.
  4. If you are not sure, call Tarion. If you have any questions about a new home purchase, call us at 1-877-982-7466. We answer home buyers’ and homeowners’ questions every day.

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The goal of this blog is to provide you with general information about the warranty process by sharing real experiences from new homeowners. The blog should not be relied upon as legal advice. For privacy reasons, we will not address or resolve current cases in a public forum, so any comments or questions that are posted on this site that describe individual cases cannot be discussed. If you have a question about your warranty or Tarion generally, we would be pleased to discuss your issue, in the context of your particular circumstances and in confidence. We exercise reasonable care to avoid offensive, illegal or defamatory content from being posted, as well as comments that are intended solely for self-promotion or considered to be spam.