September can be an all-consuming month of back to school messaging. Even if your school days are long gone, there’s little chance you’ll escape the hype. Given the theme of the month, there couldn’t be a more fitting time to launch an addition to Tarion’s builder registration requirements: education. Did you really think school was out forever?
Beginning September 1st, home builders looking to get newly registered with Tarion will have to demonstrate knowledge that may take them “back to school” to study subjects like ‘building codes’ and ‘business planning and management.’ These are in addition to the existing requirements – such as having the competence and the financial means to build homes – which are the essential skills one should expect from any new home builder.
Builders are facing increased challenges such as more complex construction methods, new materials and building code regulations, as well as tougher economic realities.
It’s a fact that becoming a new home builder in today’s world is not an easy endeavor. Builders are facing increased challenges such as more complex construction methods, new materials and building code regulations, as well as tougher economic realities. All of this means successful builders will need new skills – and that is what these education requirements are intended to provide.
We sat down with Tarion’s Vice President of Licensing and Underwriting, Peter Balasubramanian, to give us the 411 on what it takes to become a new home builder in Ontario.
If I want to become a new home builder, where do I begin?
There are different requirements depending if you are building regular houses or if you are planning to build condominiums. A little over 60% of the new home construction in the province is regular detached homes, and that’s the area which our new education requirements are aimed at. If you are new to the industry and are looking to get registered to build these kind of homes, you must first attend an orientation, an interview, and then complete a technical test based on the Ontario Building Code. This three-pronged approach has provided us with a good understanding of an applicant’s business objectives, as well as their financial and technical competence. And now, with the introduction of educational requirements, this adds confidence to a builder’s ability to construct safe, sound homes, and deliver on the responsibilities in the warranty. As of today, a new applicant will be given one year to finish the courses for all educational competencies. But come September 2016, this will be a requirement prior to registration.
What are these “educational competencies”?
They focus on areas such as business planning, legal issues in housing, building codes, construction technology and customer service. We based them on the Canadian Home Builder’s Association National Education Benchmarks for residential construction, and we believe they provide a wide spectrum of knowledge that a new builder needs. Builders can achieve the competencies by taking courses from a list of approved educational providers.
What if I have a professional designation or prior education in a certain area? Do I have to complete the competency?
There are some exceptions to the rule. A recognized designation and relevant work experience may qualify for an exemption. Alternatively, if an applicant has a designation but no related work experience they may be able to write a challenge exam without taking the course. At the end of the day, it is Tarion’s responsibility to make sure we are registering competent builders. We will assess all prior designations and experience on a case-by-case basis, and take this into consideration.
Let’s sum it up. Why education? Why now?
These new requirements are a good thing, not only for new home buyers in the province, but also for the industry as a whole. As we raise the level of professionalism in the industry, I believe we will see a benefit in the quality of the new homes that are built across the province. We anticipate that more education will lead to better customer service and fewer warranty claims, which will translate into a better new home buying experience for Ontarians.
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