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Defective Workmanship: the Basics

Defective Workmanship Law in Ontario: What You Need to Know

As a homeowner or a contractor, it is important to understand the legal rights and responsibilities surrounding defective workmanship. Defective workmanship refers to work done by a contractor or subcontractor that does not meet the reasonable standards of workmanship and quality that would be expected from a competent tradesperson. In Ontario, defective workmanship is regulated by the Ontario Building Code and the common law.

Ontario Building Code

The Ontario Building Code sets out the minimum standards for construction and design of buildings in the province. It specifies the materials, techniques, and procedures that must be followed to ensure that buildings are safe and structurally sound. The Code also establishes requirements for plumbing, electrical, and mechanical systems.

If a contractor fails to comply with the Ontario Building Code, the homeowner may be entitled to compensation for any damages that result. For example, if a contractor installs faulty electrical wiring that causes a fire, the homeowner may be able to recover the cost of repairing the damage from the contractor.

Common Law

In addition to the Ontario Building Code, defective workmanship is also governed by common law. Common law refers to legal principles that have been developed over time through court decisions. In Ontario, the common law imposes an implied warranty of quality on all contracts for the sale of goods and services, including contracts for construction work.

The implied warranty of quality requires that work done by a contractor be done with reasonable care and skill, and that the work be fit for its intended purpose. If a contractor breaches this warranty, the homeowner may be entitled to damages, such as the cost of repairing the work.

However, the common law imposes a limitation period on claims for defective workmanship. In Ontario, the limitation period is two years from the date that the homeowner discovers or should have discovered the defect. Therefore, it is important for homeowners to take action promptly if they believe that they have been the victim of defective workmanship.


If a homeowner believes that they have been the victim of defective workmanship, they have several remedies available to them. The first step is to contact the contractor and attempt to resolve the issue directly. If this is not successful, the homeowner may wish to consider taking legal action.

Legal action may involve bringing a claim for breach of contract, negligence, or breach of warranty. In some cases, it may be possible to seek compensation through the Ontario Small Claims Court, which has jurisdiction to hear claims up to $35,000.


Defective workmanship is a serious issue that can have significant financial and safety implications for homeowners. If you believe that you have been the victim of defective workmanship, it is important to understand your legal rights and options. The Ontario Building Code and common law provide protection for homeowners in these situations, and there are several remedies available to address the issue.


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