As the head of a new home building company, I know that all builders strive to meet their delivery schedule in turning over a buyer’s home. Unfortunately, sometimes delays are inevitable, resulting in a new home missed closing date.
Here’s how and why building delays happen.
Let’s look at January and February, for example. It was a long, tough winter. We had record snowfall in January (over 100 centimetres), a record snowfall when the temperature was below -20 C (over 20 cm that day) and, of course, a major dump in February that virtually shut down the city. How many school days were lost? How many construction days were lost?
Weather conditions, especially in winter, can wreak havoc on the homebuilding industry. Snow, freezing rain, wind and extreme cold present occupational health and safety issues for workers. Laws are in place to protect workers, especially in extreme cold and unsafe conditions. But this leads to construction delays and impacts schedules.
Ottawa is facing another challenge during these strong economic conditions that impacts home construction productivity.
Over the past year, the homebuilding industry as a whole has been experiencing a trade, material and labour shortage. Not only has this had an impact on the cost of a new home, it has also increased the time to build. At the same time, inspectors are being cautious to ensure that both the best interests of home buyers and health and safety are top of mind.
With the weather and trade shortage, it has become very difficult to predict workflow and final occupancy.
What can you do?
As consumers, you also have a role to play.
First, stay in touch with your builder (either the sales agent or the site supervisor, if their name is provided). Ask questions, track weather, check on schedules and ensure you participate in frame walk throughs, if they are available through your builder.
Drive by your new home site and observe from the road. Never tour the home site on your own — it’s dangerous and a health and safety concern. If you were to get hurt, you could be charged or even sued. Remember, the home is not yours until you close. But in observing from the road, if you feel the house is behind schedule, call your builder.
In some jurisdictions, occupancy dates are not given until kitchens are installed in the home. In Ontario, Tarion (which administers the new home warranty act) stipulates that dates must be given when a contract is signed.
Your builder will be working hard to keep to the agreed-upon Tarion completion schedule. It’s hard to predict if they can meet that scheduled completion date when you sign your contract but, as work progresses, the builder’s confidence level goes up.
What’s your back up?
To help reduce your stress, have a contingency plan in case there is a delay. Discuss your plan with your spouse, your family, or friends who might be in a position to help you “hold over” during an unexpected delay.
Document your plan in case you receive notice of a pending delay. At the appropriate time, you should be discussing closing dates with your builder to ensure they are on time. If they are not confident, it will allow you to act and follow through on pre-planned arrangements without being surprised. Under Tarion, delay notices must be provided at least 90 days before your first scheduled completion date. If the builder misses this notification and must delay, they will need to provide you with some compensation.
The best surprise is no surprise. Stay in touch with your builder and ask questions. Sometimes there are unavoidable situations and how your builder deals with you should be the focus.
Builders are proud of their record and though they strive to meet their commitments to you, they should be transparent and share the challenges they may be having.
Be assured that they are working hard to ensure the timely delivery of your home without compromising quality or the safety of their workers. Most importantly, they want a happy and satisfied customer.