Case Stories

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    Courtesy or Warranty?

    Mr. P reached out to the New Home Ombuds with complaints about his Warranty Assessment Report and the Warranty Services Representative who conducted the inspection. Mr. P stated that there were items which the builder had determined to be faulty and which he had agreed to repair.  However, at the inspection, these items were assessed to be not warranted.  Mr. P. believed that this demonstrated incompetence on the part of the Warranty Services Representative.   The Ombuds Office reviewed the file and determined that the Warranty Services Representative had inspected all items using the existing standards of Tarion’s Construction Performance Guidelines and the Ontario Building Code. The assessment process was found to be fair.   The Office advised Mr. P that the job of the Warranty Service Representative is to determine whether or not items listed on the statutory form are covered under the warranty, as outlined in the Ontario Home Warranties Plan Act.   The builder may be willing to repair items that are determined to be not warranted as a goodwill gesture to customers.  This happens frequently and is separate from Tarion’s assessment of warrantability.  The fact that the builder is willing to repair a non-warranted item does not mean that the Warranty Services Representative has made an error or displayed poor judgement.  

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    Waiting for an Urgent Inspection

    On June 27th, Mr. B called Tarion’s Customer Service line about heavy water penetration from the roof that was damaging the ceiling of his 3-year-old home.   He had already submitted a Major Structural Defect form, but was concerned because the water was leaking through the ceiling light fixture, which Mr. B believed to be a safety issue that needed to be addressed immediately.  He had an independent contractor willing to repair the roof right away and he wanted to know whether he could have the repairs done and invoice Tarion. Customer service put Mr. B through to the Technical Desk in order to determine whether the situation was an emergency. He reached the Technical Desk representative the following day, only to be told that the water penetration was a two-year issue and would not be covered under the remaining warranty.  When Mr. B requested this response in writing, he was told that this would not be possible.  In frustration, he contacted the New Home Ombuds to request help. Our Office reviewed the file and as a result the file was escalated to the Manager of the Technical Desk and the Director of Customer Service.  This led to an Investigative Inspection being booked the same day.  This allowed Tarion to review the situation immediately to determine whether it would be covered under the warranty.

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    Communication Concerns

    Ms. K contacted the New Home Ombuds to indicate she was worried that her request for a conciliation inspection had not been received by Tarion.  Ms. K was aware of her responsibilities to request the inspection within a set timeframe and knew that failure to do so could result in her losing the opportunity to have her 30-Day items assessed for warrantability.   Ms. K informed the New Home Ombuds that she had called Tarion to schedule the inspection two weeks prior to the deadline. The call was not picked up and she left a voicemail message at that time, but did not receive a call back from Tarion. One day before the deadline to request the conciliation was reached, Ms. K again called Tarion to determine whether her voicemail had been received. She was informed that no inspection had been scheduled as yet, but that she could still request the inspection online or over the phone. She elected to do so over the phone and was transferred to the scheduling department at Tarion.  Again, the call was not picked up and Ms. K left a voicemail.  When Ms. K contacted the New Home Ombuds, the deadline to request the conciliation had passed and she still had not received confirmation from Tarion that her inspection had been booked.   The Office contacted the Customer Service Department on Ms. K’s behalf and learned that Tarion did attempt to return her original message but that her request for a conciliation inspection had never been confirmed by Tarion.  The Customer Service Department determined that, based on their records, it was clear that Ms. K had attempted to make the request within the given timelines.  Therefore, they agreed to accept the request for inspection although the deadline had passed.  The New Home Ombuds stayed in contact with Ms. K and Customer Service until it was confirmed that the conciliation inspection had been scheduled.   

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    Mould SOS

    Mr. N called us to say that he had informed his builder and Tarion about mould in his home but that Tarion was not taking any action to assist with the situation. When the Ombuds office reviewed the matter, we discovered that Tarion had actually been working diligently behind the scenes to help the homeowner with his mould issue. They had contacted the builder to inform them that the mould was an issue that Tarion required them to investigate and Tarion had confirmed that the builder had contracted an engineer to investigate and identify the cause of the mould. The problem? Tarion had not informed the homeowner of their actions. To the homeowner, it appeared that Tarion had done nothing at all and that their mould issue was being ignored. Lack of communication is a procedural fairness concern that leaves homeowners in the dark about what is happening with their warranty claims. As remedy for this fairness issue, we recommended that Tarion provide Mr. N with a clear, written summary of the next steps in resolving his warranty claim and that they apologize for the lack of communication.

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    Scheduling Trouble

    Ms. N’s builder was not responding to her concerns about water penetration, so she attempted to contact Tarion’s Customer Service Department for information on the warranty process. When Ms. N attempted to reach the Contact Centre, she found that she was unable to get through and ended up leaving voice messages. However, when Tarion employees returned her calls, they did not leave a name or extension number for call back. Instead, Ms. N found herself having to repeat her issues and concerns all over again each time she contacted Tarion.   The New Home Ombuds discussed this issue with Tarion’s Director of Customer Service. The Director informed the Ombuds that this approach is standard procedure because when calls come into the general phone line they are more likely to be picked up live than if they go to an individual staff number.   However, because of the concern raised by Ms. N, the Director agreed that a change would be made to Tarion’s call back process to ensure that Customer Service staff will leave an email address as well as the general phone number when returning a call. This way, customers like Ms. N can email details of their concerns and a specific staff person will be assigned to assist, cutting out the “telephone tag”. This change allows for continuity in addressing issues and prevents the need for homeowners to start over with each interaction.  

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    Basement Leak

    Mr. S was in the process of completing his One Year Form when he noticed water in his basement and a smell of sewage. He contacted the builder who suggested that Mr. S and his family not use water in the home or flush the toilet. The builder indicated that Mr. S’s next course of action should be to include this water penetration issue on his One Year Form when it was time to submit it to Tarion. Mr. S contacted the New Home Ombuds because he believed the situation required urgent attention.   Mr. S had young children in the home and limitations to water usage and exposure to sewage could present a safety concern. He was not willing to wait for year end. The situation was in fact deteriorating and the water in the basement was now ankle deep. Mr. S requested the New Home Ombuds’ help to resolve the situation as quickly as possible. The New Home Ombuds reached out to Tarion’s Technical Desk and asked about immediate action for Mr. S and his family. Within the hour, the Technical Desk had contacted the builder and requested a review of the repairs that day. 

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