Construction warranties — where are they?

Date: 
Wednesday, August 26, 2015

From time to time, I am called up by friends or family to inspect a potential property they want to purchase, and I cringe. It’s not just about my desire to avoid four to five hours of crawling around in a ceiling or walls, it’s the risk my endorsement may make for someone I care about.

Few people know that a developer only has to guarantee the construction of a building for one year. I’ve had haircuts that lasted longer than that.

You are better protected buying a Chinese alarm clock made in Shanghai than you are buying a $350,000 condominium in Coquitlam, or buying a TV assembled in Mexico than spending $1.5 million on a house built in Burnaby.

Warranties are offered and provided at little or no cost for everything that we buy except for our most major expenditure—our homes.

Why is that?

Why is it that my computer gets fixed for free, but the mould in the ventilation system in my new house is my problem?

We as tradespeople see the practices and the shortcuts that are driven by an uninspected and unguaranteed product.

Low bid has become the ultimate guiding factor in residential construction; fuelled by the underground economy. Contractors are trimming more and more from the product and hiding the deficiencies behind the walls. They know their buildings won’t stand the test of time. They also know that it just has to work for one year before all liabilities transfer to the individual condo owner.

The BC Building Trades has been at the forefront of the fight for consumer protection in construction.

It was the BC Building Trades that sounded the alarm on the leaky condo crisis in B.C. Looking back now, the damage to individual condo owners was in the billions of dollars; 45% of all condos built between 1985 and 2000 had leak problems.

Thousands of people lost their life savings and bankruptcies were rampant before the government was forced to create the Home Owners Protection Office.

Yet 15 years later, homeowners are no better off.

If the construction industry had to offer the warranties similar to Sony, Electrolux, or God forbid the automotive industry, the consumers and owners of residential construction in the province of British Columbia and across this country would have lifetime comfort in what we have built for them.

But the builders, designers, and contractors of our industry all say that would cost too much.

I’m tired of scuttling through crawl spaces to inspect buildings. It’s time for the legislators to start taking residential construction warranties seriously and start making sure homeowners get value for the money they spend.

President’s View
Lee Loftus

BCBT President, Business Manager Insulators Local 118

For More Information: 

Contact the BC Building Trades office
(778) 397-2220

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