Pre-Delivery Inspection

Condos | August 19, 2008

On the 26th of August, I have my “PDI” at Rezen Condominiums.  I’m scheduled to take possession of my new unit on August 28th.

Just what is “PDI”?  What is the purpose and why do we do it?

Consider it a preemptive strike against the developer; it’s not like a developer has ever cut any corners before, right?


We all know that new homes in Ontario are covered by the Ontario New Home Warranties Plan Act, right?

I state this simple fact in advance because I’d like to cover the pre-delivery inspection today, but first we must understand where it comes from.

The term “Tarion” might be synonymous with the “Ontario New Home Warranty,” since Tarion Warranty Corporation administers the New Home Warranty Plan Act.  The Act outlines the warranty coverage that builders are required to provide to their customers.

Coverage under the Act includes things such as deposit protection, protection against defects in work and materials, protection against unauthorized substitutions, and protection against delayed closings or delayed occupancies without proper notice.

We could spend all day talking about delayed closings, for example, and perhaps one day we will…

The pre-delivery inspection is basically a walk-through of your new home or condo, with the builder/vendor/developer, during which time the buyer and the seller each have a responsibility: the buyer is to search out defects in work and materials, and the seller is to demonstrate to the buyer how to operate systems in the new home such as heating, plumbing, ventilation, etc.

Here is a scenario: You chose the finishes for your condominium over two years ago, settling on the cherry kitchen cabinets to match the floors, and the dark granite countertops.  You arrive on the date of your PDI to find that the cabinets are a light brown and the granite is also completely different than what you had in mind.  This is exactly why we conduct the PDI.

Any items you feel are damaged, missing, incomplete, or incorrect will be listed on the PDI Form.

Now where we take this example from here is anybody’s guess.  In a perfect world, the developer would say, “Oh I’m so sorry, Mr. Jones, let me have my workers come in here right away and get you the correct cabinetry and granite.”  But we don’t live in a perfect world, and chances are excellent that the buyer would end up fighting with the developer to some degree.  If the buyer can produce a signed copy of the original Agreement of Purchase & Sale where the model numbers and type of cabinetry and granite are clearly stated, then surely the situation would be rectified, right?

No matter what the process and eventual outcome, it gives the buyer peace of mind to know that he or she is covered by the Tarion Warranty, and they won’t have to pay any money out of pocket to correct the problems.

At the pre-delivery inspection, you (the buyer) will be asked to sign the PDI Form, a Certificate of Completion and Possession, and the Confirmation of Receipt of Homeowner Information Package form.  Once the CCP is signed, this marks the official date of possession, and establishes when your warranty coverage begins.

Usually, the PDI acts as an opportunity to look over the unit and satisfy yourself of its worthiness.  It’s like at the end of a haircut when the barber takes the mirror and holds it behind your head so you can nod and say, “Look’s good,” even though there isn’t much you can do about it now if it doesn’t look good.  He can’t grow back the hair he cut off, and you’d only speak up if something was terribly wrong, like the wrong color cabinetry and granite.

If there are a couple of loose door handles, you’ll list them on the PDI Form.  Perhaps the bathroom mirror is crooked, and there is no sealant around the tub and faucet.  List these on the PDI Form as well, and in due time, the problems will be corrected.

You have to remember that the condominium is built by hand, by people, and thus are subject to human error.  “Mike the carpenter” had to install baseboards in 217 units in that building, so surely he missed a couple nails or joined two corners poorly in one of more of the units.

Perhaps the men from Maytag scratched the new hardwood flooring with their dolly as they wheeled in the washer/dryer, and thus the buyer will add that physical imperfection to his PDI Form.

It may sound like a lot of work, and it may sound inconvenient, but recall that when you buy a resalecondominium or house, you take the property as it is.  When dealing with a new condominium or house that is covered under Tarion Warranty, this is a huge advantage to the buyer to be able to list off any issues before possession of the unit.

Now what if you forget or miss something, and you discover a defect once you move into the condo or house?  Well that is what the “30-Day Form” is for, since as the title suggests, you have thirty days after possession to list off any other issues with the property that can be added to this new form.  The only problem here is that quite often it is difficult to establish that these problems didn’t occur after the buyer moved in.  The developer could always argue that the reason the problem wasn’t listed on the original PDI Form is because the problem wasn’t there.

Now what if you were to discover some defects years later that were not listed on the PDI Form because they were impossible to spot?  My mother purchased a house from a builder about eight years ago, and a few years later, they dug up beside the foundation of the house and discovered that the lazy builder had never even stripped the wooden forms from the footings after the concrete was poured!  He just left them there, and burried them so nobody would ever know.

But when moisture began to penetrate the basement, it was time to investigate.  Once the problem was discovered, the Tarion Warranty had long since run out, and my mother was forced to take the builder to court.  I’m proud to say that not only did she take the builder to court, and win, but she also sued the building inspector from the City of Toronto, and won.  Sure, it might have taken the better part of a decade to get the litigation sorted out, but it sure paid off once my mother was holding a bag full of cash.

I finish with this “bottom line” while not trying to generalize, but still being realistic: there are a lot of builders and developers in this city, and not all of them are honest, competent, and experienced.  Some cut corners on purpose while others have yet to figure out the learning curve and are just inexperienced.  But knowing this is half the battle, and for a buyer to purchase a house or condo without having any suspicions about the quality of the work is just asking for trouble.

Thankfully, our Ontario government realizes just how many problems could arise in this area, and has covered us all with the Tarion Warranty, and set into place the pre-delivery inspection so that we can take a proactive approach to an otherwise murky situation.

The key to a PDI is to take your time, and be extremely thorough.  My condo is only 550 square feet, so I don’t have much to investigate, but I’ll open and close every door ten times, turn on all the faucets, and inspect every single square inch of flooring, trim, and window.

I can’t think of a better motto than the old adage, “Better safe than sorry“….

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One thought on “Pre-Delivery Inspection

  1. Douglas

    at 3:12 am

    It’s hard to find knowledgeable people for this topic, but you seem like you know what you’re talking about!


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