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New Home ConstructionWhile there are good builders in Canada, there are also marginal builders and poor builders in Canada. Currently Canadians have no reliable, objective means of knowing who the good builders are. To further exacerbate the problem, Canadians have more consumer protection for a $40 toaster purchased in a department store than they do when purchasing a newly built home.

diceThe purchase of a home is the largest investment made by most Canadians. It should not be a gamble due to construction defects and inadequate new home warranties. Many Canadians are living in homes that do not meet the minimum health and safety standards of the building codes as these codes are often not being enforced by municipal inspectors during construction.  Often homeowners will not speak up about the problems due to the litigious nature of many builders and the fear of negatively influencing their own home’s resale value. Frequently home insurance policies exclude claims that result from defective construction. 

If you are considering purchasing a new home, or a resale home, it is important to take your time and undertake considerable research before you make your purchase.

Consumer protection in Canada is primarily a provincial responsibility. Many are of the view that when Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), a major federal Crown corporation, discontinued home inspections in the mid-1980s, the quality of home construction in Canada deteriorated significantly. Some now refer to it as “disposable” housing. The worst Canadian housing disaster emerged in the 1990s in British Columbia with the “leaky condo” crisis, which continues to this day. Canadian for Properly Built Homes (CPBH) hears regularly from Canadians from coast to coast about serious construction defects (ranging from Building Code violations involving cracked foundations, insufficient heat, and leaking roofs – and virtually everything else in between). CPBH also hears from many of these new home purchasers that their builder is unresponsive, the home warranty inadequate, and politicians/government bureaucrats who, when asked by the home purchaser for help in resolving these issues, typically simply point to another level of government or another ministry. Tragically, far too many Canadians, when faced with this situation, decide that they have no alternative than to “patch and run” – that is, selling their home with the construction defects to the next unsuspecting purchaser, without disclosing the construction defects. “Patch and run” puts the true condition of all listed real estate into question. Further, the Canadian home inspection industry continues to be in turmoil due to qualification issues, despite CMHC’s involvement with - and funding to - that industry.

CMHC continues to refer to “quality housing” in Canada, however, when asked, CMHC officials advised CPBH that it does not have a measure of housing quality. The Harper federal government appears to be disinterested in these serious construction defects, the inadequate consumer protection, “patch and run”,and CMHC's unwillingness to develop and implement a measure of housing quality.

While some government officials encourage litigation as the means for consumers to resolve these issues, CPBH disagrees. Litigation is not the answer: Most Canadians do not have the financial or emotional strength to endure what is typically a very expensive, lengthy, stressful law suit against deep pockets, with no guarantee of the result. The answer is for government officials to ensure that the home is properly built at the outset, and, given that perfection is not possible, government officials must also ensure that there is an effective, adequate new home warranty provided with each new home. Canadians need - and deserve - no less!

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