For many Ontarians, buying a new home represents a more suitable option than buying resale. The residential construction industry represents one of the largest sectors in the country, with the Canadian Home Builders’ Association reporting that 25% of all homes purchased each year are newly built. So, doesn’t it make sense to ensure the protection of these buyers, who often don’t know a lot about construction? This is why the new Home Construction Regulatory Authority (HCRA) was introduced as the province’s new-home building industry regulator on February 1st.
Buying a new construction allows you to customize every detail of every square inch to suit your needs and wants. This is an appealing notion, but sometimes the promise of shiny bells and whistles can overshadow the attention given to the home’s structural framework and safety components, which are, let’s face it, more important than fancy countertops or a dreamy walk-in closet.
Maybe you’re thinking you’ve got nothing to worry about. After all, everything in the house is brand spanking new, including the materials, plumbing, electrical wiring, and heating and ventilation systems – so what could possibly go wrong?! The simple answer? Plenty.
Before assembling your homebuilding team, you’ll likely ask for references from the builder and the tradespeople they hire, which means you’re essentially relying on what you hear from others. You could ask whether they hold a licence, which certainly has some merit, but who’s actually holding them accountable? Maybe you’ve purchased a new-home warranty, which offers some protection, but knowing you can simply fix problems after they occur is far less important than knowing everything is done properly and professionally from the start.
Up until the HCRA was introduced, licensing for new-home builders and vendors was administered by Tarion Warranty Corporation, a not-for-profit organization that also delivers Ontario’s new home warranty program. Due to the perception of potential conflicts of interest, however, the Government of Ontario felt it was important to separate Tarion from the role of licensing and introduce HCRA as the regulator.
What’s HCRA’s role?
HCRA’s dedicated to strengthening consumer protection by ensuring Ontario’s new-home builders and vendors are held to high professional standards, ethical conduct and best practices. HCRA will also strive to educate buyers about making informed decisions throughout the entire building process. Supporting professional competency, enforcing fiscal responsibility and upholding licensing compliance will ultimately instil confidence among consumers, who can rest assured they’re being treated fairly and respectfully, and that their new home is built properly and professionally.
New-home buyers also now have access to a formal process and central location to address complaints and concerns related to builder conduct. HCRA promises to take action against unethical and illegal builders and vendors to protect the public and provide accountability in the marketplace. HCRA is also responsible for maintaining the Ontario Builder Directory, a useful resource that provides valuable information on thousands of builders and vendors across the province.
In summary, HCRA will:
- Regulate and licence new-home builders and vendors
- Enforce professional standards
- Implement a formal complaints process
- Investigate illegal building practices
- Maintain a directory of Ontario builders and vendors
Regulating the people and companies who build and sell new homes in Ontario is welcome news for those who are looking to make the largest financial commitment of their lives when building a custom home.
To learn more, visit HCRA’s website.
As always if you have any questions, we’re only a call or email away!