Building Standards: Your Home’s Strong Foundation

May 22nd, 2024

When you are buying a new home, there are many details to consider. Rarely do you think about whether the structure itself is going to be sound – that is a given. Isn’t it?

In Ontario, the minimum standard for new construction, additions and alteration to existing buildings is set out in the Ontario Building Code, and all licensed home builders in Ontario are required to meet its standards.

Licensed builders. That is an important word. The Home Construction Regulatory Authority (HCRA), which regulates new home builders and sellers in Ontario, issues licences to qualified builders and holds them to professional standards. They do not get licensed unless they demonstrate certain competencies, including knowledge of the Ontario Building Code.

Every year in May, the Ontario Building Officials Association (OBOA) celebrates Building Safety Month to highlight the importance of the Ontario Building Code and the role building officials play in promoting public safety. Industry professionals such as building officials and home inspectors are required to build new homes according to the Building Code. It is the HCRA's role to address any competency and conduct concerns related to the builder, and Tarion to manage any defects in the home. Together, we all strive to protect new home buyers, help them make informed decisions, and enhance consumer confidence in our industry. Consumers also have a role to play by being mindful and careful of who they work with when it comes to their home construction projects.

Who is on your team?

Purchasing a new home can be complicated with various people involved in the construction process. Ensure you hire only licensed professionals, from builders to electricians to plumbers. Before obtaining a building permit, your builder must have a valid licence from the HCRA. If your builder is not licensed, it means they have not proven they have the technical and competency skills to build homes. It could also mean the home is poorly built and does not meet the Ontario Building Code.

To check your builder is licensed, visit the Ontario Builder Directory, which provides background information on more than 6,500 new home builders and sellers in the province. The Builder Directory will tell you if a builder or seller holds a valid licence from the HCRA and it is an important first step in your home buying journey.

We cannot stress this enough – if you’re hiring a builder to build your home, make sure the builder is licensed; this is the law. When you work with an unlicensed builder, you may have little protection if things go wrong. Builders with a valid licence from the HCRA are required to meet professional standards and adhere to the rules and standards of the industry, including the Ontario Building Code. This means added protection for you as a home buyer.

As we celebrate Building Safety Month, let’s take a moment to appreciate the people who contribute to the safety of our communities and the professional standards we have in place that support a continuously improved home building industry in Ontario.

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