As part of Tarion’s consumer protection mandate, we educate homebuyers, homeowners, builders and industry partners about Ontario’s New Home Warranty Program and our role as regulator. Using a variety of online and face-to-face channels, we strive to make our information and resources accessible to our stakeholders, no matter where they are.
Helping Consumers Make Informed Decisions
Buying a home is a journey – from choosing a location and builder through taking possession to managing your warranty. To help make this process easier, Tarion offers tips, advice and how-to information via a variety of media so consumers understand the risks, responsibilities and processes involved.
During Fraud Prevention Month in March, for example, Tarion launched an awareness campaign on illegal building which highlighted the potential consequences and provided tips on how to recognize an illegal builder. The campaign had a total reach of over 2.2 million while more than 395,000 people viewed the video.
In the fall, Tarion released a video on the risks of radon for National Radon Action Month. To accompany the video, an audio news release, blog and infographic highlighted important facts about radon and the link to lung cancer, explained how radon is detected and encouraged homeowners to consider getting their homes tested.
To further the public’s understanding of the warranty and related issues, we also published 35 blog posts, six podcasts, two webcasts and 56 columns in publications such as Toronto Sun, Condo Life, NextHome, Homes Magazine and Hooshmand Magazine (a Farsi publication). We also distributed consumer-oriented articles to regional media which were picked up 809 times.
Offering Transparency and Accessibility
Tarion’s Annual Public Meeting (APM) is an opportunity for Ontarians to learn more about what we do and to ask questions about the New Home Warranty Program. In 2016, Tarion introduced a webcast-only APM to accommodate people who couldn’t attend because they lived too far away.
Our 2018 webcast (held on May 24) attracted 1,582 people from across the province, including those who were travelling at the time of the meeting and participated from other provinces and countries (as far away as Brazil, New Zealand and Uganda). The webcast was closed captioned in real time to increase accessibility. Tarion's Warranty Services staff fielded over 100 questions that were sent in advance of the event and handled another 60 inquiries during the webcast, while our senior management panel answered 28 questions live.
In a post-APM survey, 85 per cent of respondents indicated that they found the APM useful. For those who were not able to participate, the APM recording was posted on our YouTube channel. Questions that were not answered during the webcast were posted with answers on our website.
Providing Educational Resources for the New Home Market
Who builds, sells, inspects and manages a home is just as important as who ultimately purchases it. That’s why it’s critical that everyone involved throughout the homeownership journey understands their roles and responsibilities.
Under the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act, new home builders are legally required to be registered with Tarion. As the requirements for new freehold builders have evolved with the introduction of the seven educational competencies, in 2018, we created a How to Become a New Home Builder brochure to provide an easy reference to help clarify what’s involved in the registration process. This publication complements the content on Tarion’s website and can serve as an additional tool to encourage compliance.
Building permits, occupancy permits and pre-delivery inspections (PDIs) represent important steps between construction and possession of a new home. Municipal building officials and home inspectors are key to identifying potential illegal builders, flagging Ontario Building Code violations and helping to educate homebuyers about potential issues or risks. As part of Tarion’s collaborative approach to consumer protection, we launched several new educational resources in 2018 to ensure these important industry stakeholders have the most up-to-date information on warranty and industry issues. These resources include customized continuing education curricula as well as e-newsletters and dedicated resource libraries for these two groups on Tarion.com. The courses and educational materials include information on Pre-Delivery Inspections, illegal building, radon, warranty coverage and the Construction Performance Guidelines.
A new home purchase is both a financial and a legal transaction that involves agreeing to a variety of terms and conditions. We recognize the importance of purchasers having legal advice before signing the Agreement of Purchase and Sale and the Addendum, and we see real estate lawyers as important partners in protecting a homeowner’s warranty rights. In 2018, in response to the rise in condo enrolments and changes to deposit protection, Tarion created a new brochure on common elements for real estate lawyers. We also revised our existing brochure for real estate lawyers to ensure these legal advisors have the most up-to-date information for their clients.
Through these efforts to educate the new home building community, Tarion is helping to ensure consumers receive the best service, advice and protection as they embark upon the journey of homeownership.
Reaching Our Stakeholders in the Community
Accessibility is key to Tarion’s customer service commitment. And although much of today’s communication is digital, our staff believe that connecting in the community helps put a face to Tarion and can build stronger relationships with our stakeholders.
In 2018, Tarion employees participated in more than 700 events across the province, providing important information on warranty coverage, Construction Performance Guidelines and policy changes, as well as helpful advice on resolving issues.
In the past year, Tarion also launched a municipal outreach strategy to further solidify longstanding relations with municipalities and improve information sharing between all parties. Municipal building officials play an important role in ensuring Ontario homes are built safely and according to the Ontario Building Code. They are also an essential resource for Tarion when assessing defects and planning for remediation.
Tarion sees our partnership with municipalities as vital to increasing consumer confidence in the new home marketplace. We look forward to our continuing to work together to address emerging trends and create joint training opportunities.