Your New Home Warranty
One of the great advantages of buying a new home is that it should come with a third-party warranty. A new home warranty protects you. As you look at homes and get to know the builders in your community, consider the warranty carefully.
Is a new home warranty mandatory?
In British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, builders must provide home buyers with a third-party warranty. In the rest of Canada, the decision is left up to the individual builder, but members of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association are required to offer a warranty as a condition of membership.
For home buyers, the choice is easy – you want to buy your home from a professional builder with a solid reputation, excellent after-sales service and a third-party warranty.
At a minimum, a new home warranty generally includes deposit insurance and protection against defects in work and materials as well as major structural defects. Additional coverage may include defects in your home's mechanical systems or building envelope. Some warranties include living expenses to offset the cost of temporary accommodations, moving and storage if you cannot occupy your home due to builder failure or warranty repairs. You may also be able to upgrade a "basic package" and get extended coverage.
Before you sign a contract with your builder ask them to explain the warranty provided and its coverage – what's covered and for how long, and what's not covered. Also verify that the builder is registered with a warranty provider; you can contact the provider by telephone or check their web site.
Before you move in
As your home nears completion, your builder will schedule a walk-through inspection/orientation of your home, also known as a pre-delivery inspection. Together, you and your builder will go through the home to verify that it is built according to plan, with the features and inclusions specified in your agreement. At the same time, you should take note of any imperfections and defects that require attention, down to the smallest detail such as a sticking drawer, a missing towel rack, a scratch on the wall and so on. Discuss with your builder how and when these things will be dealt with.
During the walk-through, your builder will explain how to operate and service the mechanical systems, and how to take care of the many components in your home to ensure long-lasting performance. Ask questions as you go – it's important that you feel confident and knowledgeable about your new home from the outset.
What if I run into a problem with my new home?
Keep in mind that "settling" is common during the first year and may result, for instance, in minor cracks or nail pops. If you have questions about your home, encounter any problems or need service, follow the process set out by your builder. In the event that your builder is not responsive to your needs, the warranty provider will ensure appropriate action, including mediation between you and your builder.
Warranty providers also offer detailed consumer information, including home maintenance, so visit their websites. Many warranty providers also have excellent advice on home buying, such as what to look for in a builder and the steps involved in home ownership.