My pre-construction condo keeps getting delayed. What can I do?

Buying a pre-construction condo is an exciting milestone. Whether this is your first real estate transaction or if you have purchased a property before, it is a significant financial undertaking. What should you be aware of?

Know your rights. While construction delays are quite common, if they do occur, builders are required to follow specific rules about extending closing or occupancy dates, including providing proper notice to buyers, as per the terms outlined in the addendum attached to every agreement of purchase and sale.

Ontario has a new home-warranty program, which is managed by Tarion, a consumer protection organization established by the Ontario government to administer it. As long as the home is enrolled by the builder, the program provides a certain degree of protection regarding delays. Your new home warranty’s delayed closing/occupancy coverage ensures you are compensated if your builder does not provide sufficient advance notice of a delay, or if the completion of your home is delayed beyond a certain date. If the delay is due to unavoidable circumstances — there’s a pandemic or natural disaster — then the builder may not be required to provide any payment.

Understand the terms and conditions in the agreement. Given that a real estate contract is legally-binding, it is always wise to consult with a lawyer who is insured to practise real estate law. They can review your agreement, explain the clauses, answer any questions you may have, and flag risks or points of concern.

It is key to note that the addendum to your purchase agreement contains information on the conditions under which a builder can delay. I recommend you obtain legal advice to confirm that the agreement is clear and comprehensive. That way, if a delay does occur, there won’t be any confusion.

When you experience a delay, seeking legal advice is even more critical. If the project is delayed beyond the furthest date specified in your contract, it could be a breach of contract. Your lawyer will be able to advise you on the specifics of what this looks like for you.

For those who haven’t purchased a pre-construction condo yet, research the builder first. You can do so on the Ontario Builder Directory which is hosted by the Home Construction Regulatory Authority (HCRA). This database provides information on all builders in Ontario, including information about any projects prospective buyers may be considering.

As an added resource, I’d encourage you to check out HCRA’s website, including their New Home Buyer Dashboard which outlines how purchasers can work with their builder.

Last, but not least, if you haven’t already, hire a real estate agent. They are licensed professionals with a wealth of knowledge and expertise to offer, and can provide you with strategic advice to protect your interests.

If you have a question for Joe about the home buying or selling process, please email

Joe Richer is registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). This column is for general information purposes only and is not meant as legal or professional advice on real estate transactions. Follow RECO on Twitter: @RECOhelps


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