Four questions to ask your contract home builder before building your new house

You’ve made your decision: you’re going to build a new house. It’s a big, exciting step and you can’t wait to have a customized home that’s all your own. But before you can snuggle into your new digs, you’re going to need a reputable builder who will make your dream home a reality.

To get you started on your search, here are four questions you should ask your prospective builder before you sign a contract.

1. Can I connect with your past customers?

A good builder will be more than willing to have you speak to their previous customers. If they’ve made other homeowners happy, there’s no reason for them to refuse this request. And if they do refuse, you should take that into consideration when making your decision.

When you connect with your prospective builder’s past customers, take some time to learn as much you can about their experience. Some good questions could be:

  • Was your home completed on time? On budget?
  • How close was the final result to the original drawings and specifications?
  • How satisfied were you with the builder?
  • What was the process to repair or fix things once the home was complete?

2. Are you registered?

All builders must be registered with Tarion to build homes in Ontario — it’s the law. If your builder isn’t licensed, your home may be at risk of being built illegally. To confirm that your builder is registered, search the Ontario Builder Directory on Tarion’s website. Not only will you be able to see the status of the builder’s registration, you will see how many homes they have built over the last 10 years and whether Tarion has had to resolve warranty claims made against them.

Protect yourself from potential problems by asking your builder about their inspection and resolution process during and after construction.

Hand With Magnifying Glass Over House

3. What is your inspection process?

If you’ve ever watched a home improvement show, you know that no project comes without issues. Protect yourself from potential problems by asking your builder about their inspection and resolution process during and after construction.

Once your home is complete, your builder should schedule a Pre-Delivery Inspection (PDI) with you. If they don’t, remind them that they are required to do so. It’s important that you have this opportunity to inspect the home with your builder, learn how all the systems work and check for any defects, damage or missing items that will need to be addressed by your builder. To help make sure you don’t miss anything during your inspection, download Tarion’s PDI checklist and read the Getting Ready for the Pre-Delivery Inspection brochure ahead of time.

4. What warranties are available?

While you may say no to that warranty on your new TV, your dream home is a different story. Ontario law requires that builders provide certain warranties on new homes, which are backstopped by Tarion.

The mandatory warranty coverage to be provided by builders on contract homes includes:

  • Protection against financial loss if the builder fails to build the home;
  • One- and two-year warranties for defects in materials and workmanship, Ontario Building Code violations and water penetration; and
  • Seven-year warranty for major structural defects.

If a builder tells you that the mandatory warranty coverage will not apply to your contract home, you may want to choose a different builder who is aware of and will honour their warranty obligations.

Building a new home is one of the most exciting—and nerve-wracking—experiences. Ask your builder the right questions to protect yourself and your investment in your dream home.