The Program is Alberta’s only new home warranty provider with dispute resolution processes designed to bring closure to issues builders and homebuyers cannot resolve on their own.
Learn more about Mediation and how to request Program assistance below.
*Mandatory warranty products and services apply to any Program-warrantied home whose building permit was applied for after February 1, 2014.
Communicate with Your Builder
When you purchase a new home, the best way to ensure you end up with the home you purchased is to maintain open, collaborative communication with your builder and work through any issues or concerns as they arise.
Sometimes this dialogue becomes difficult, and it may seem you and your builder will never agree. If you’re unable to work through these differences, the Program provides effective dispute resolution services, including mediation – a voluntary, highly effective process for resolving issues that may arise between homebuilders and their customers.
Request for Assistance
If you need the Program’s help to resolve an issue with a Builder Member, the first step is to submit a Request for Program Assistance through our Homeowner Portal. (To log in for the first time, use your personal invitation code.)
You can also contact a Client Services Representative at 1 800 352 8240. We’ll listen to your concerns and explain the dispute resolution options available to you: mediation, claim assessment and Legislated Dispute Resolution Process.
A quick, confidential process that’s highly effective in resolving issues and preserving business relationships, mediation brings participants together for a discussion facilitated by an impartial moderator. Mediation helps bring the participants to a mutually acceptable agreement, often within a very short timeframe.
To mediate disputes, the Program has members of staff who’ve been trained to facilitate mediations. Alternatively, we may use mediation specialists from organizations like the Alberta Arbitration & Mediation Society.
For homes whose building permit application was filed after February 1, 2014, the Program’s conciliation and arbitration services are no longer available. Instead, in accordance with the Insurance Act, we offer a Claims Assessment procedure.
While the New Home Buyers Protection Act does not prescribe a claims handling process to be followed by all new home warranty providers, the Government of Alberta’s Construction Performance Guide for New Home Warranty in Alberta outline some general standards of service homeowners can expect from their warranty provider:
- On receiving notice of a claim, a warranty provider should promptly make reasonable attempts to contact the homeowner to arrange an evaluation of the claim.
- The warranty provider should make reasonable efforts to avoid delays in responding to a claim, evaluating the claim and scheduling any required repairs.
- If, on evaluation of a claim, the warranty provider determines that the claim is not valid or not covered, the warranty provider should notify the homeowner of that decision in writing, along with the reasons for the decision.
- Repairs should be undertaken in a timely manner, with reasonable consideration given to weather conditions and the availability of materials and labour.
- All repairs and replacements made under a home warranty contract must be completed in a reasonable manner using materials and labour conforming to the Alberta Building Code and industry standards.
Prior to the filing of a valid claim, the Program continues to offer mediation to help resolve issues related to the contract between a homeowner and builder.
Claims Assessment Procedure
1. The homeowner files a claim with the Program
2. The Program assesses the claim
3. The Program adjusts the claim and releases its verdict to both homeowner and builder
4. A homeowner who disagrees with a verdict and wishes to contest it may file an appeal as per Section 519 of the Insurance Act.
Legislated Dispute Resolution Process
The New Home Buyer Protection Act refers to a legislated dispute resolution process outlined in the Alberta Insurance Act Sections 519 and 540. These sections are not the only considerations when reviewing the legislated dispute resolution process, but they provide enough information for basic understanding. The Program is not in a position to interpret the Act or its regulations. You may wish to seek legal counsel for further clarification.
The legislated dispute resolution process will be limited to matters of warranty insurance.
*Pre-mandatory warranty products and services apply to any Program-warrantied home whose building permit was applied for prior to February 1, 2014.
Communicate with Your Builder
If you and a Builder Member of the Program are unable to work through an issue, you may request the Program’s assistance at any time during construction or post-possession until your warranty coverage expires. If your home has pre-mandatory warranty coverage, we offer three methods of finding solutions and settling issues: mediation, conciliation and arbitration.
Mediation is effective in resolving most issues between our Builder Members and their customers. There is no fee for this service, in which an impartial moderator facilitates discussion and explores solutions between purchaser and builder.
Request for Assistance
If you need the Program’s help to resolve a complex issue or dispute with a Builder Member, the first step is to submit a Request for Program Assistance through our Homeowner Portal. (To log on for the first time, use your personal invitation code.)
You can also contact a Client Services Associate at 1 800 352 8240. We’ll listen to your concerns and explain the dispute resolution options available to you: mediation, conciliation and arbitration.
A quick, confidential process that’s highly effective in resolving issues and preserving business relationships, mediation brings participants together for a discussion facilitated by an impartial moderator. It helps move the participants to a mutually acceptable agreement often within a very short timeframe.
Before mediation can begin, the builder and homeowner must both agree to this course of action. The Program cannot compel either party to participate, nor are results or agreements enforcable by the Program.
The Program has members of staff who’ve been trained to mediate disputes. Alternatively, we may use mediation specialists from organizations like the Alberta Arbitration & Mediation Society.
A conciliation investigation (or claim assessment, as it became known on February 1, 2014) aims to establish the root cause of an issue and determine its warranty coverage. To identify causal factors in specialized areas, the Program may seek input from outside experts.
Your Request for Assistance authorizes the Program to contact your builder and begin an investigation. Within the conciliation process, the Program must respect the agreements already in place between you and your builder.
The inspector will contact you for more details about the issue and your builder’s response and request copies of any relevant documents and correspondence.
When the inspector visits your new home, a representative from each party with the authority to make decisions must also attend. We conduct inspections as soon as possible after receiving a Request for Assistance.
Along with informal discussion between the builder and homeowner during the process, an investigation often leads to resolution and a responsive course of action without further involvement of the Program.
In all cases, the claims assessor will prepare a Conciliation Report to detail the investigation’s findings and outline responsibilities. With total objectivity, the Conciliation Report (now called the Claim Assessment Report) establishes the root cause of a disputed issue and its eligibility for warranty coverage based on standards set forth in the Government of Alberta’s performance guidelines.
If the situation is a warrantable issue, the report will outline the required builder response and timelines for corrective action. The Program will monitor progress to ensure successful closure within an appropriate timeframe.
Timeline for Corrective Action
The builder is responsible for material and workmanship issues in the first year. For such issues, the Conciliation Report typically gives our Builder Member a firm deadline for corrective action. In the unlikely event that the builder fails to respond, Program staff will coordinate and supervise completion of the necessary work.
For a major structural defect after the first year and within the coverage period, the Program will resolve the issue within the limits of the warranty coverage. See your warranty certificate for limits, terms and conditions.
If either party disputes the determinations of the conciliation process, arbitration may be necessary.
If you’re unable to resolve an issue with a Builder Member of the Program through mediation or conciliation, you or your builder may request arbitration – a formal hearing process in which you or your legal representative present your position and supporting evidence to an agreed-upon third party for judgment.
In Alberta, the purchase and construction agreement between a builder and homebuyer includes an ‘arbitration clause’ stipulating that all disputes, claims and differences not settled through amicable negotiations or mediation “ the dispute shall be settled through binding arbitration in accordance with arbitration rules adopted by the Program”.
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