Bianca Marijan

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 Think you’re safe from problems when you buy a new home? Think again


new home tario warrantyDave Prosser and Sylvia Potter bought their brand new home just three years ago, for a few hundred thousand. It was supposed to be their dream home, but instead they’re living a new home nightmare.

In their first year of ownership, Dave and Sylvia compiled a list of 106 complaints to submit to their new home warranty provider, Tarion.

“This was going to be our last home,” Dave tells Marketplace’s Wendy Mesley. “You buy a new home, you think it’s not going to break right away.”

Down the street, the same story. A new house built by the same builder and lots of problems.

Joanne and Joe West spent their lifesavings on their new home, but two weeks after they moved in part of their basement floor actually caved in. They compiled a long list of problems too, and the builder did eventually fix a few flaws -- but others, not at all.

Joe has worked in construction for over 20 years, so he began to fix things himself. But it means he has to spend tens of thousands of dollars of his own time and costs for materials and equipment needed to complete the work.




new home constructionMarketplace calls in TV contractor Mike Holmes to drop by and check out Joanne and Joe’s problem home firsthand.

He finds a problem in Joe’s garage – there’s no sheathing along that wall. Mike says the house should be condemned, meaning “they’ll put a condemned sign on the front door, you get to live in a hotel and until this house is fixed, you are to stay the hell out of it. “


The City of Hamilton is supposed to watch over builders by issuing building permits and checking plans. Every house should have a permit for Joe and Joanne's house before the shovel hits the ground. We do some digging of our own and find out the City of Hamilton didn’t issue a permit until five months after construction began. And at Dave and Sylvia’s? No permit till the day they took possession. In fact, a whopping 18 houses on their street were started without permits, all built by a Hamilton builder, Brett Wright.

In an interview with Wendy Mesley, the City of Hamilton’s Chief Building Inspector, John Spolnik says it’s supposed to issue permits and then follow up with all the inspections:



Spolnik: It’s up to us to enforce that requirement. We need to make them get a permit.

Mesley: So it would be illegal, then?

Spolnik: It would be contrary to the Ontario Building Code to construct without a permit.

Mesley: 18 of [the homes], the permit wasn't issued until after construction began? Until after inspections were done? If there's no permit, how can they follow standards?

Spolnik: They’re looking for as much as they can that is obviously not in accordance with the Code.

Mesley: You're almost facilitating the process by saying, looks pretty good. Next. Keep building.

Spolnik: No, we’re not facilitating it.

Mesley: But that's what it seems like, if it's not a real inspection.

Spolnik: It’s an inspection better than zero… as advised by our legal department, we are better off to find as many things as we can through that process.



Three years in, both couples are now suing the City of Hamilton and their builder, and both couples are tens of thousands out of pocket for private inspections, repairs, and legal fees. And that’s just the beginning, their case could take years to resolve.

So how does this happen?

“When the system fails the people, that’s how it happens,” says Holmes. “It’s not properly inspected and if it was these guys should be smacked silly. If it was government inspectors that actually inspected this, they should be fired. Never mind the builder should be put in jail. He’s built a house that has devastated so far two people on this street, financially devastated, emotionally devastated, and where is he right now? Let me guess he’s building another house.”


We dig around and discover he is. Brett Wright is building a half-million dollar home just outside Hamilton.

Every province has a new home warranty program – in some it’s mandatory to join and can cost almost $800. In Ontario, the program is called Tarion.

When the homeowners started having problems, they turned to Tarion. It initially offered Dave and Sylvia a few thousand dollars to fix a couple of problems, but other issues were denied altogether.

“They would you know, say not warranted, not warranted, not warranted, by item," says Sylvia. "And we'd say, well wait a minute!"

Desperate to prove their case, Sylvia and Dave spent $7,000 hiring their own private engineer. That’s on top of thousands spent in legal fees and costs to have things fixed.

Tarion had over $300 million in its war chest, so why so stingy? Wendy interviews Tarion President Howard Bogach.

Mesley: They feel or felt that Tarion was there to protect them, and in the end, they ended up feeling you were there to protect the builder.

Bogach: I can assure you, I have home owners that are upset with me. I have builders that are upset with decisions that we make along the way. Ours is to try and be completely impartial and try and call them as you see them along the way.



To find out more about Tarion, we talk to Real Estate Lawyer, Bob Aaron:


Mesley: In the past, people have complained about Tarion's Board of Directors... so who were they there to protect?

Aaron: The assumption is that they were there to protect builders who actually controlled the program… the board is stacked with builders.



But that might be changing. Aaron’s just been appointed by the Ontario government to join Tarion’s board.

But why is the builder Brett Wright still building?

Tarion licenses builders in Ontario, but there’s no indication in their builder’s database that they’re trying to revoke his licence. And what about that brand new house? Tarion told Wright a year ago to stop building. Instead of using his company name, he stayed under the radar by building under his own name – as the owner. Seems he knows how to work the system.




Mesley: They had to hire their own inspectors, their own engineers, their own lawyers – it took them years. They had to fight you at every turn.

Bogach: I absolutely agree with you on that point. I can only apologize. I think there were things that happened on those files that created issues and confusion along the way. I hope we would never treat somebody like that in the future. Issues happen, mistakes happen, that’s the nature when you deal with 450,000 homes. Some things will fall through the cracks, and our objective is to try and make sure we pick up on those things and they don’t become significant.

Try telling that to Joe and Joanne and Dave & Sylvia. After lowballing them offers, Tarion finally comes through with much larger settlements. Dave and Sylvia receive $85,000. Joe and Joanne can't discuss their settlement amount with us. But it’s still not near enough to fix the problems with their new homes.

For Mike Holmes, the big problem is still the builder Brett Wright.

“He got away with the whole system,” Mike says. “He’s not back here, he’s not fixing this, the government’s not fixing this, the new home warranty’s not fixing this, and you’re left holding the bag so – as far as I’m concerned, you have been so screwed.”

We spend weeks trying to talk to Wright. He doesn’t agree to an interview, so we track him down.



Mesley: Mr. Wright? We're with CBC Marketplace. We've talked to people who've had to spend tens of thousands to fix the homes you've built. You have nothing to say to them?

Wright: I’ve got nothing to say to you or them.

Mesley: Why do you keep building homes that have all these problems?

Wright: That’s a matter of opinion not mine.

Mesley: Well, Tarion has agreed. They've settled with them for a lot of money. And you're still building. What is your opinion about the situation?

Wright: I haven’t got one.

Meanwhile, the Hamilton families’ dream homes are still living nightmares.






This is in regards to the comment that jksk wrote,wish I could give you advice but when our problems started two weeks after we moved in everyone thought we were sucking wind,they took a blind eye to it and in the 4 years we have been going through this it has cost us our savings and our dreams for a future this was our dream home and it has been a daily battle. We need closure. The city has made a lot of changes that will benefit future new home owners and I thank them for that, but my family has to still go through the channels. The only advice I can give you new or old house hire your own BUILDING CODE SPECIALIST to insure your families health and safety.


Good Luck
Joanne West




Posted by joanne westt on August 28, 2009 02:04 PM

I'm a newcomer to Canada and I'm really scared to read all these comments about purchasing a home
I've got one important question to ask however and that's What can we do as members of the public to stop this from happening!
Practically every Canadian Family buys a house. If so much of this is occurring why can't we as a group of Citizens do something to stop it. Perhaps we can form a Citizen group which can hire appropriate inspectors
I'm really saddened to see that these homeowners have literally no where to go to get justice. Sometimes trusting that a government has your best interests at heart isn't going to work. Governments make a fuss if people make a fuss.
Where is the public group that is getting together to petition and publicize these problems and if there is none perhaps we should start one....
Anyone out there that can give advice on that.








I enjoyed your April 11th episode with Mike Holmes. I found it ironic though that shortly into the program was a commercial for Direct Buy (your Mar 27 show), a company that you criticized.








This a comment in regards to Ricardo, he did offer to buy the house back, but without paying for all the upgrades that we paid for and assume all responsibilities for the Ontario Building Code violations. Can't say too much because of the legality but we just want our life back it has destroyed our health and our marriage and our life savings. Where do you get off you don't know what you are talking about I live it with my family every day and it is a nightmare. What, were supposed to sell it and let someone else take on the burden. I hope no one ever has to go through this ever again. The city is at least putting things in place so it doesn't happen to someone else thanks to us.This should never have happened Laws are in place for a reason. The building is the building code.








Where does the Tarion home warranty system kick in here, why are these homeowners left to fix these things themselves, our experience with Tarion after 18 months trying to get things fixed makes it clear its a "builders" self regulated system, doesnt help the homeowner .


A follow up story should include the Tarion :"scam"


We are Better off than Hamilton, but many problems with my builder on a purchase of a "premium" priced executive: home








I live in a new subdivision an adult community... A new building contracter bought up the rest of the lots that had not been developed yet. I have been watching the building prossess since last summer. I have gotten into a couple of arguments with the builder and his foreman about mediocre and below standard buiding practices.
I called the city inspector and nothing will be done. Oh well! the attitude. I called Tarrion I got a rep in Niagara
Falls with a phone and office in his cellar. Again too bad.
I don't understand a system that allows builders and renovation contractors to not stand behind their work and contract, entered into knowing full well they won't finish, do below standard work,hire unlicenced employee's and no permits. The burocracy make the owners of the homes hold up their end of a contract but the contractor has no obligation to uphold his part.








As with anything, a good foundation and sound structure you will have no problems!








I work for a new home builder in Sask, we build 70 - 100 houses a year and here is my advice.


Reserch your builders back ground. Check with the Canadian Home Builders Association or the local Home Builders Association.


Ask for referances, look at homes that they have under construction. If they are a good builder your sales person should have no problem in showing you homes that they are building.


The key to a well built home is!!!!! Attention to detail befor INSULATION! Foundation, framing, plumbing, electrical, building paper, windows, weeping tile and simply is it well constructed before the finishes are started. You have to start with a good structure or you will have problems. You mite say well, I know nothing about that stuf, if it does not look rite it proble is not. There is nothing wrong with asking questions.


Reserch, reserch, reserch, it's out there for all of us.








excuse me for my writting!!! i'm french,so i may have spelling problems.we are from st-leonard new-brunswick,a small and quiet little town.all started in september 1998 when we herited my mother in law's house.she is now a widdow couldn't live alone.meanwhile,we agreed to stay with her but we have to add more space to the house.i am a mother of two daughters,we hold a familly of 4.renovations was a must for us,due to a lack of space.leagal papers were processed,lawer,a permit,estimate was made,loan to the bank,agreement(signature)from all members of the familly(10)+ my husband they are 11 in all.we did this for our protection for the sake of my 2 girls!!!the contractor we hired was my brother in law OUCH OUCH OUCH,I beleive you must be saying right now!!well guess what? in 2002 we found water comming in our basement.we lost everything in basement damage 22000.00 still no help from insur.






s a home inspector I tell people that if they think Tarion is there for them they are sadly mistaken. tarion is there for the builder and to make money. if you buy a new home be prepaired to be on your own. the builder uses tarions book for warranty work. I could get monkees to do better work then these builders. we must change the laws to protect the consumer and not the builder. 

Posted by Mike Edwards on April 13, 2009 09:25 PM




These stories are no surprise to me as I have worked for several builders over the past years and have come to realize that it's not the builder who needs me the's the homebuyer.I have heard and seen enough that the indusrty is showing no signs of changing... Market place and Mike Holmes did a great job in exposing that builder but there are more out there like him 


Posted by Sherril on April 13, 2009 09:16 PM






I would like to see a show on "Who is actually doing their job"
You showed builders ripping people off and municipal inspecters not inspecting, permits being issued after the house is built. This is just one industry.

Ever been in a place of business and you know the person serving you doesn't know what they are doing? Ever received the run around from a governmnet office? I was shocked at the reply from Tarion. Brushed it off and was allowed to do so. The public has to get smart and find a solution to stop this madness. We pay twice. Once when our tax dollars pay for these services and again when we get ripped off, or neglected or ignored.
Thank you








osted by Susan McLoughlin on April 13, 2009 04:16 PM

I don't know how to comment on the excellent work done by CBC about new homes program. I am one of the victims of these builders. I bought a new energy efficient house in Kingston, Ontario in Aug 2007 from Braebury Homes. Just after TWO WEEKS of buying this house water started leaking in the basement after rain. Wrote Tarion with no response until I called. Within two months again found water leakage from different walls in basement. Roof started leaking in just one year's time. Every time after windy weather, shingles blew off from the roof, Braebury Homes refused to replace shingles after one year, now I am paying $ 100 every time to replace shingles. Hydro post was erected just in front of car garage, which is huge problem if someone is backing out. My advise: Don't buy a brand new house. 


Posted by Imtizaj Ahmed on April 12, 2009 09:47 PM






I am a site forman for a large builder in western Canada and I see problems like this all the time. One of the biggest problems is untrained, unskilled, unsupervised labour. Anyone can call themselfs a framer but do they know how to fram? Often builders will hire people that come in to the office looking for work with out checking their back ground. Secondly builders hire people to do a job and then leave it at that. Do these people realy know what they are doing? Third problem, untrained building inspectors. I have seen people hired to be building inspectors that their previous job with the city was to read water meters! It takes years of on the job experience and trainning to know what to look for. I have 15 years in as a site forman and I am still learning.
I watch Mike Holms all the time, I might not agree with him all the time but you can't knock his reputation.
Great episode 


Posted by Todd on April 12, 2009 10:29 AM






Mike Holmes for Prime Minister!-we sold our 60's solid built home approx.6 years ago and bought our 5 years new retirement home . What a hugh disappointment-leaking roof, windows leaking to the point of rot and leaking thru and rotting to the flooring, carpenter ants, cracking and leaking of the basement floor (something that the seller totally denied having any trouble with), a freezing north-side bedroom and to add insult to injury this builder was voted builder of the year for this area (in the higher priced homes category) for a couple of years in a row,,I guess it took a couple of years to get it right!!Does anybody have pride in their work, when you're home you should feel like you're HOME!!! Building Inspectors??Contractors with skill or integrity??? 


Posted by Adrian Holierhoek on April 11, 2009 08:47 PM






As someone in the building construction industry I am intimately familiar with the shortcomings of contractors construction practices and attitudes. Obviously there are major problems that need to be solved that are bred into the culture of building construction.

Mike Holmes is a knowledgable contractor who I find makes comments for effect because he is in front of the camera and occasionally comments on things that are obviously out of his area of expertise because he is simply incorrect. Mike Holmes loses credibility when he makes exaggerated claims and unnecessarily upsets home owners who are already distraught over their poorly constructed house.

This show was an excellent piece to bring attention to a very large problem. I just wish you would have prepared it with a more objective inspector who deals with a building review in a more professional manner. 


Posted by S Holmes on April 11, 2009 01:22 PM






With this many problems in construction Canada wide, it seems to me that it is up to government to set and enforce rules, to protect it's citizens
in dealings with contractors and in new home constrution.
Government should set a code of conduct for construction workers, and initiate a reporting body, who will take action in the case of construction error.
If seat belt laws can be enforced, so can construction laws.


Finally, it is logical that we as citizens ban together to push for government rules and intervention. How does one start this?? 


Posted by sr on April 11, 2009 12:14 PM






In regards to the opening of the show Mike says that the gas meter is to close to the exhaust vent,I am a Licenced gas fitter in Alberta and we go by the Canadian gas code and code says a vent must be located more than a meter away from a VENT from a gas meter.Maybe Hamilton has different codes than the rest of the country but I doubt it,and I don't think Mike should be scaring the whole country with what he thinks the code is. 


Posted by Dean Kling on April 10, 2009 11:49 PM






Watching this episode gave me cause to re-live the nightmare my wife and I went through buying our first new home. Suffice to say NEVER AGAIN will we buy new. The builder had no customer service whatsoever. In fact, when they painted our house the wrong colour, I was told to take it up with my lawyer if I didn't like it. And Tarion.....what a joke! They are USELESS!!! 


Posted by Eric Bursa on April 10, 2009 11:02 PM






Regardless, of who is bashing who. We have a problem. And it needs to be fixed.
The first step is owning up to your responsibilities. If there is any doubt then redo it or find someone who knows the proper information.
The next step is asking yourself...."Would I let my own family live in this house"? If you answered yes, then I expect your standards are very low and you do not care about the safety of your own family or your own finances.
I salute you Marketplace..... 


Posted by Sue on April 10, 2009 10:47 PM






Dear Wendy,Mike and fellow homeowners,
We too bought a new home seven years and eleven floods ago.
We too have gone to Tarion and the builder and requested help, and the only thing that they do is put another sump pump in our basement. They have upgraded to three industrial sump pumps in our basement and as of the 09 thaw we still had to put in one of our backups. Hydro is like a mortgage payment every month year round, and we just keep getting the run around from Tarion their engineers and the builder. We were told that this isn't bad building, it doesn't matter that it is underwater it still good workmanship. We had to hire our engineers and their conclusion was we are under the water table, so the house needs to be lifted, Tarions reply was if your car has a burned out headlight you don't replace the whole car. Homeownsers beware. Any organiizations that help would be appreciated? 


Posted by Heather Emslie-Smith on April 10, 2009 10:32 PM






I went through very similiar problems with an RTM built by a reputable builder.Now twenty years and thousands of dollars later,I'm still repairing.Home Inspections? I was told there'd be 3 done after 1 yr,3 and 5 yrs..I had 1 done if you call it that.A quick 2 min walk through and that's it.No end to grief for this single parent. At times I'd like to burn it all down and start over, but what's the use..Just to get screwed over by someone else? 


Posted by val on April 10, 2009 10:23 PM






In every industry, business and profession, you will find honest, hard working people trying to make a living, as well as scammers, thieves and pirates. Sometimes, it is truly difficult to tell the difference. Homebuilding, in Ontario, is the most regulated and taxed industry in Ontario. How do these horror stories happen? Simply, the province and municipalities see new home construction as profit centres, an opportunity to collect all kinds of fees and taxes without having to answer to anyone as the fees and taxes are buried into the price of the new homes. Regulate it, but don’t interfere with it! How does a builder with 21 possessions in 2005 get into so much trouble now? Small home builders simply don’t have access to reliable expertise and or advice when they need it. Tarion should be taking the lead and offering technical help to home builders when needed. The builder did offer to buy the houses back. The homeowners refused. Why? Maybe they are taking advantage of the situation along with their lawyer to profit from the situation... In any event, the entire situation with Tarion and new home purchasers could be fixed with a lemon law. The lemon law would protect the buyers of poorly built homes by forcing the buyback of the homes by the home builder and or sellers within two years of possession.








Posted by Ricardo on April 10, 2009 09:36 PM

Serious home buyers should or could do a variety of things to see how a builder is.Something like touring building sites of a builder to see if occupied homes are finished completly,such as siding,brick work,walkways etc.Usually if the house is not totally finished outside god only knows whats going on inside.Knock on doors or take a walk on a off day casually talking with present owners,its well worth it,and its free aside from time.Specify to the sales person,and get it in writing that if the house is not 100% done inside and outside,your not signing off and that the builder will have to resolve the issue due to the fact that most buyers HAVE to move.That would mean a hotel paid for or the buyer moves into the model home of that builder.Lawyers should not be having the buyers sign off if they are not happy.The occupancy permit should not be issued for under 95% completion,but it is. 


Posted by james on April 10, 2009 08:47 PM






Of course Tarion is there to protect,who that would be,I have not figured that out yet.As someone previously said in other words,MONEY grab.Tarion is all about tolerances,sad but true.Their website doesnt tell you everything and its appauling to see what some home owners have to go thru with a bad builder and see when they Tarion say no its within tolerances of our guidelines.Some builders get away with alot yet some in these parts of the Nations Capital take alot of pride in the building process of their home.Todays builder for the most part puts more into cosmetics rather than balancing out looks and quality.I have heard everything while doing service work in my trade yet as time goes on it gets less surprising.Alot of buyers do not get a home inspector,a big mistake.An inspector or 350,000 dollars or more of misery,not hard to decide...... 


Posted by James on April 10, 2009 08:27 PM






Its amazing what I have seen in the new homes.Being in a finishing trade for over 20 years I have seen the quality deminish ALOT.This is due the alot of factors,lowball prices for trades so its basically you get what you pay for when it comes to hiring contractors who build the home.I am on the eastern border of Ontario,close to Quebec,where by the way Construction workers from Ontario by law can not work on new homes without a permit or license to work in Quebec,that includes their own residents as well.Where do they end up,in Ontario.I am not saying that they are not qualified but basically Ontario should do the same thing,have trades people certified by the Govt.I would not want a Jack of all trades master of none pouring my foundation,after all if thats messed up so will be the rest of the house. 


Posted by James on April 10, 2009 08:14 PM






I am a carpenter from bc. I've seen homes built well and I've seen poorly built ones. To call yourself a carpenter you don't really need any thing. To call yourself a journeyman carpenter you need to have another journeyman carpenter sign a paper saying you've worked 7500 hours and write a 100 question multiple choice test (ridiculously easy, most grade 12 level exams are much harder) with, and here's the clincher, no practical exam. You can be certified as a carpenter without ever using a circular saw. The trade program is a joke. 


Posted by david on April 6, 2009 10:01 PM






I think that Mike Holmes should start to see if people out there would like to help him on a show and than they will at least get trained by a contractor who knows what he is talking about and than hopefully this huge problem will stop!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Us new home buyers need help and if the government wont help us who are we going to turn to? 


Posted by Tanya on April 2, 2009 10:51 PM






Despite what some people claim, I've seen a lot of shoddy work.

It is entirely possible to do work that any reputable worker SHOULD be ashamed to have their name associated with and TECHNICALLY not be illegal.

I've seen to many contractor take the attitude that if you can't be put in prison, all's good. 


Posted by Trent on March 30, 2009 03:56 PM






Well it is a comment in regards to they would never buy froma n unknown builder. I f the builders partner used to be the president of the realestate board you wold think differently. 


Posted by joanne on March 28, 2009 01:42 PM




This is the reason why choosing the builder is even MORE important than choosing location and price...I would never buy a house from some unknown builder. 


Posted by Chigu on March 27, 2009 01:57 PM






Let's focus on the issue,big picture.Organizations such as tarion,or credit check or insurance they are all there to protect their interest and make money for them selves and for sure not to look after the consumer for their own right.I am wondering whether the consumer has right for this matters! i am not talking about the small matters.But the big ones which distort and deteriorate individual's life.Once you are signed off with them you are taken for granted to loose,loose small or big depending on your luck.Think about it, all this is wathced by the people's representatative i.e. government.We as peple need to realize collectively to understand and accept how far we want to go with this pretense.Do we wait till it happens to you? 


Posted by kp on March 11, 2009 06:32 PM






Codes are often several years behind advancements in engineering and design. Builders are very slow to embrace a new method or technology unless it benefits their bottom line. Construction quality, in general, suffers during a boom mainly due to time restraints and higher percentages of "green" workers. Utility providers can get addendums to their respective codes, so whats allowed in Hamilton may not be allowed ontario or Canada wide.
As far as 25 yr old homes being inferior; my home built in 1978 still meets or exceeds 2005 NBC requirements. Only the electrical requires minor upgrades to meet current code.
Multiple earlier comments by one author kept pointing out the featured homes passed inspection. The anti-Mike, bad Wendy tone is that of an inspector covering his a--, or a contractor that embraces "skeleton" code adherance. 


Posted by Scott Allan on February 25, 2009 08:13 AM






Hi my name is Mike Quenneville this was a very hard program to watch,My wife and I had bought a 13 year old home in Dominion park in Hanmer Ontario which is part of the Greater Sudbury area, Domion Park is suppose to be a prestine area.We did everything we were suppose to including a Home inspection and the house got a green light from the Inspector.The day we moved in is when the Nightmare started,the liner in the pool was leaking,the foundation is leaking(water damage)serious electrical damage etc..... and the estimates that we recieved tally up to 60 000 depending on what they find when they open up the walls to fix the electrical,but my question is how can this happen? We have filed a lawsuit and are patiently waiting. 


Posted by Mike Quenneville on February 18, 2009 03:06 PM






Shawn or should you have ID yourself correctly Mr. Brett Wright...If Mr. Wright wants to sue the CBC that is his right. If he didn't want to defend his name to the public, then he didn't. So, don't go crying about your rights Mr. Wright. 


Posted by Kim on February 10, 2009 03:59 PM






Can you believe that even after this broadcast that the Dundas Minor Hockey Association still allows Brett Wright to coach our sons...? 


Posted by Paul on February 6, 2009 12:03 PM




Mike Holmes is a person who has brought attention to a problem that I have become very familiar with: A massive amount of new homes being built in Ontario every year, due to a booming population in the GTA. Unfortunately, this huge building spree has not been supported by a network of qualified tradespeople. As the older generation of contractors retires, they are not being replaced with younger tradespeople quickly enough. Many youngsters these days are not willing to work in a construction trade. The ones that do go into a trade will need years before they achieve the level of experience attained by all the recent retirees. As a result, there is a huge gap in knowledge and know-how at this point in time. If measures continue to be taken to promote youth entering a construction trade, eventually the quality will go back up in new homes. I usually tell people, if they are thinking of building or renovating, try to wait until there is a lull in the economy--that way only the better contractors will have work. When times are good, there is not enough skilled manpower to meet all the needs of new homeowners. This means that for sure, the quality of construction is going to be less than when times are slow. As we enter a lull in the economy, it might seem like a bad time to invest, but as a new homeowner, you may very well get a better product in the end, since as they say, "the cream rises to the top". Poor workmanship diminishes as the number of available contracts diminish. Companies only keep their best workers when they have to lay people off, right?

I see the results of work that goes uninspected every day. I also see the effect of too many inspection appointments on the quality of the building inspections. For example, when electrical inspectors have more than twenty appointments for inspections in one day, which happens regularly, how can they possibly do a proper inspection? Sometimes they do not even show up, but will pass the inspection anyway. Other times, they are so overworked and overwhelmed (demographics is also affecting their sector) that they make mistakes and misinterpretations. This is not their fault, but instead is due to the factors I mentioned earlier about trade retirees (electrical inspectors are all licensed electricians) and the building boom happening at the same time.


-More active promotion of construction trades in youth career counselling

-More government investment in training building code professionals

-Research and development of better building practices that use renewable energy technologies and promote houses that are built with 75-100 year materials instead of 10-25 year materials. 


Posted by Tim, Licensed Electrician on February 5, 2009 09:05 AM






The Holmes on Homes TV program is a very popular production. Whereas the producer said that it was "personally heartbreaking....70,000 requests for help this year". I submit that most new home owners who were scammed by a builder or developer won't publicize their dilemma. That would further drive down the price of their home. Regardless, Tarion Corp. is a Private Agency under Ontario legislation and the Ontario Government will not intervene under any circumstances. 


Posted by Jerry Y. on February 3, 2009 10:34 AM






Agreed Andrew. Not only should the builder be held responsible but the CBO. Our CBO agreed in trial that he approved building code violations and that he signed the Tarion waiver using my husband's name in support of the builder. This was considered to be okay. This CBO continued to work as a CBO in Ontario until very recently without even minimum qualifications. The Ministry which regulates CBO's qualification were aware of this situation but failed to do anything about it. 


Posted by Lori Bryden on February 1, 2009 03:15 PM






I am from Hammonds Plains N.S. I also bought the house from hell.Our builder will not repair code items ,home warranty is a joke,inspectors ,don't think that they were ever here. Lawyers want 50 grand to go to court and maby get the builders hammer,saw,and ladder.Why are we not protected?Government says that new home owners are only 1% of a problem.Same government feller says that we are ownly knows of 13 cases of people having problems with builders in 20 years.I want to here from people in halifax that have bought new homes and got screwed. please email me 


Posted by martin on January 31, 2009 08:19 PM






Great Episode. Definitely need a follow up episode on this one. How about making the builders criminally responsible for not following the proper code. That will make the CEO's of the builders wake up and take accountability. 


Posted by Andrew on January 28, 2009 12:10 PM






Dear Wendy, Mike and the CBC Staff. Great job on busting that homebuilder and kudos for nailing Ticketmaster. Two jobs very very well done.  


Posted by Marc on January 27, 2009 03:39 PM






I've dealt with Tarion on a few occasions.

Their CPG's are very interpretative in Tarion's favour of course. Its a real battle arguing with them over subjective areas. ie. water is pooling in garage - they claimed that it is not pooling - well if there is a pool of water and its not going anywhere its pooling...LOL

I strongly felt that they try very hard to limit any payments - although I did manage to get them to pay me on two claims the builder refused to fix. On one only after i got the City Inspector to claim that it was an OBC violation - even though the city issued a report listing this violation. 


Posted by Jack Spratt on January 26, 2009 03:31 PM






I do not believe this to happen here in Canada. I am in the market and looking to buy house but after this story I am so worried and stuck now. 


Posted by mumtaz Langah on January 25, 2009 09:26 PM






Joe, Joanne, Dave and Sylvia, our hearts go out to you. When we say we know exactly what you are going through, you know that it is true.

My family has also experienced the loss of our dreams when hiring a contractor to purchase a new home in Ontario. We have been interviewed by CBC Marketplace a few years ago.We had a new home (which we just gave up) completely approved by the CBO and then condemned by same Municipality after 4 Provincial Engineers' reports indicated that the house has hundreds of building code violations. The contractor we hired is a registered Tarion home builder but failed to register our home with Tarion. He has been charged as an illegal builder. The CBO admitted to signing my husband's name on the Tarion waiver (under oath) stating that my husband was the builder, not the contractor. This same CBO testified to either approving building code violations or never showing up to approve but signing off on the approvals at a later date. This same CBO continued to work as a CBO in the province of Ontario but has never been qualified as a CBO.

Unfortunately and not understood by anyone who has read our case, the judge ruled in favour of the contractor because the contractor has been building for 35 years and had an agreement with the CBO that if the CBO was called and didn't show up for an inspection in 2 days, the work was automatically approved.

At the same time that we were asked to pay the builder for his shoddy work, the Municipality ruled that the approved house was in fact condemned and we weren't allowed to enter, use or occupy. We were forced to comply with all 4 Provincial Engineer reports before work could proceed ($300,000 worth of work to fix a house that is not closed in).

After fighting for justice for 6 years, we sadly gave up my family property and home last January.

The Bank has been left with the house but they won't secure it as they don't want the liability. They have tried to hire contractors to tear this newly built approved/condemned home down but no one wants to get involved.

Can this happen in Ontario? Sadly there are many of us who have experienced this tremendous loss. There is no consumer protection in Ontario for new home builders. If interested you can read our story in the Ottawa Citizen "Dream Home Turned Nightmare" January 12, 2008. Please continue to contact your MPP. 


Posted by Lori Bryden on January 24, 2009 11:50 AM






....... City wants my entire 3rd story addition removed due to poor support. Forget the courts. What a joke. I'm now going on my 7th year and haven't even gotten past Notice of Discovery..2 contractors and one with insurance. Make certain your contractor is bonded. My disaster will cost me over 100 thousand dollars. for which I must pay. The only ones that win....... The lawyers....and the shady contractors. City planners won't commit to court time. They only offer suggestions..... another cost saving technique. All in all. I've lost everything. water seeps thru my roof/walls and eventually ends in the basement......No help from the BBB or Consumer Affairs. What a joke....... Be careful and trust no one. Even Mike Holmes wouldn't touch my disaster. But they were kind to send my DVD back...... Nice guys do finish last.!!!!!!! 


Posted by clarence bartlett on January 23, 2009 09:09 PM






A very informative program. I run a small renovation/repair business and I run into poor workmanship a lot. Sadly the repair costs more than the original cost. If it was only done right the first time. The last thing I want is my customers complaining about my work.


Not to defend Brett Wright but I have experienced a few people who are more concerned with paying the least amount for work rather than worrying about quality or code. People (at least a few of them) do not want to pay for quality and hire the cheapest person out there or buy the lowest price item available.


I am not saying this is true in this case but if something is cheaper than something comparable then open your eyes and look for the underlying reason as to why rather than jumping on the cheapest.


"That is why we have a legal system in Canada"
Yes but the legal system fails Canadians at every turn when it drags out cases for years. Very few people can afford to go through the system and wait out the final payment.


If indeed Marketplace is slandering Brett Wright then he has his own legal recourse.


I am glad that Mike Holmes is speaking out for quality. Although I do not always agree with his repairs I do respect his ethic and understanding of the people he helps. It would be cool to be on his crew for a few homes.


Thanks again for the great piece. 


Posted by Ron on January 23, 2009 05:16 PM






Oh my God! Watching this Mike Holmes episode is like watching my life for the past 4 years. My neighbor and I have falling in houses also. The town built lots on an old coal mine. The town is starting on a second development on another coal mine and people have no idea. How do we stop all this. I have documents and reports from 1976 that say the land our houses are on was never to be developed because of the mines. We have been in litigation for 4 years and lawyer bills of $130,000 and still have not seen anything done. Home owners are screwed. National home warranties are a farce. Help drowning in Alberta. 


Posted by Loretta Brost on January 23, 2009 04:30 PM






Who really cares if Bretts' life is ruined. Does he care about the lives he's ruined. I think not. His concern is simply to make money. If you or your company were falsely accused nationally, would you not grant an interview to give your side of the story or at least take legal counsel...I know I would.


As for Mike holmes, well everyone knows that when it comes to construction, the only builders name that jumps to the forefront is Mike Holmes.....well at least in his head.


There are alot of good contractors who take pride in their work and display professionalism daily. Their not out to screw anyone or everyone on a daily basis. However on the reverse side there are alot of rotten ones who use the system flaws to their advantage. Those contractors when caught shouldn't be given a slap on the wrist and set free to ruin yet more lives. Their names should be aired for all to see and avoid. Fines should be levied and if necessary jail time served. Government and city officials should also pay a price. If their not doing their jobs properly re permit issuing, follow-ups etc... they should be fired and replaced by qualified professionals. It's time to clean-up the industry starting at the top 


Posted by Ross on January 22, 2009 01:51 PM






We are living the new house nightmare. We were to close April 07 didn't close until may of 08 and Tarion has declaire our builder unwilling and unable to complete the work. We had our gas boiler cut of last friday. so we have not had any forced air heat or hot water since. We still don't have a master shower that works, it has never worked since May 08'


If your interested in our long list of problems we would be happy to share.


We had 2 TSSA inspectors and 2 enbridge and a couple of hvac guys here last friday. The company that installed the system so poorly still has not returned our 3 calls and 2 emails from last friday. it was -29 with the wind chill when the gas was cut off. My calls to the company that rents the boiler also were unanswered I had to get Enbridge to call them.


We have a great examples of new build problems we are in the Toronto Beach area


Our time line last week
Tuesday My Mother lost her battle with cancer
Friday gas cut off
Sunday services for Mom
Wednesday still no plan to replace faulty equipment or fix the faulty install.


Please help 


Posted by John Golding on January 21, 2009 09:43 PM






I just bought a new home and planning to move in soon.
This story has opened my eyes.
How do the city inspectors not see all those flaws?
Are they in all in this together as partners?
How are these builders still allowed to build homes?
This is disgusting.
This is the system failing its citizens at its worst 


Posted by Jonathan on January 21, 2009 10:15 AM






As a contractor myself I bought a new home figuring that it was best for a start in the realestate market. New home; not too many or no problems... or so I thought.
The electrical and plumbing on the home I purchased were never inspected by anyone. The electrical work done was shoddy and not to code. I say this because I am an electrician and know what the code is about.
Insulation was never installed on the inside wall in the garage, holes were never sealed so CO gas could seep into my basement, and windows weren't insulated properly. Not to mention the house was very cold in the winter and the airconditioner was running almost non-stop in the summer.
I took it upon myself to repair all of these issues and more since tarion and the contractor were not willing to help in any aspect. I only received lip service from the contractors office about why they didn't have to rectify the issues on my warranty list. My coment to tarion was at the time "why did I pay almost $500.00 for a warranty if you won't honour it?" The responce was "they felt it wasn't a problem for the home warranty program to deal with."
I won't mention any name of the builder, but I know the company should be more resposible and held more liable for the work being done. As for the electrical safety authority inspections, since the new system went into place with ESA contractor numbers less inspections are done in the new subdivisions and eventually there will be a serious issue or someone may even be seriously hurt or killed from this lack of care.
I agree with Mike Holmes whole heartedly with what he says about the garbage builds the contractors are getting away with. I'm also glad to hear Bob Aaron was appointed to the Tarion board; hopefully some good will come of this for future new home buyers. 


Posted by R Burfield on January 18, 2009 09:07 PM






Just having viewed your interesting story, I have a good one for you, we have a townhouse in Mississauga that got flooded a couple of weeks ago due to a major fire sprinkler pipe that broke and the water flooded into our unit as this unit is right behind the water pump room, guess what this complex of 86 units was bulit without any main drains for water to exit in a flood situation like ours. We have many pictures of other defaults with our property and tried to seek help from the condominium management, the city of Misssissauga, but no dice.
If you would like a story on this, please donot hesitate to contact me... 


Posted by Kirit on January 17, 2009 08:55 PM






it was appalling to here mike holmes say somebody who does poor quality work should work at MacDonald's,where many fine people work pre

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