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Alberta to Adopt Builder Licensing Program

There is a new bill tabled for discussion in Alberta to further protect new home owners under the New Home Buyer Protection Act. The Amendment to the Act introduced in 2014, which covered building warranties, calls for the implementation of a builder licensing program and access to an online registry of licensed builders. Other provinces, including Ontario, Quebec, and BC already have active licensing programs in place. However, with $8 billion invested in new residential construction and 20% of the country’s housing starts, there is an immediate need for Alberta to adopt its own builder licensing program.

The program will have multiple conditions required for builders to maintain their license; they must keep an active license to develop and seek warranty coverage, show that they are knowledgeable about construction, and provide proof that they are in good financial standing.  The Amendment requires licensing for the building of all new developments, renovations of more than 75% of a home’s square footage, and owner/builders who plan to live in their homes for less than 10 years.

Municipal Affairs Minister, Shaye Anderson, held a press conference last month where he addressed many of the problems caused by the lack of a builder licensing program.

 “When Albertans buy a new home, they’re making one of the biggest investments they’ll ever make…Right now, anyone can call themselves a builder and offer their services in home construction, even if they have documented history of fraud, building deficiencies or no credentials. This affects all Albertans, new home buyers and builders alike,” says Anderson.

The Canadian Home Builders Association – Alberta will work together with the province through the regulatory development phase to determine regulations. If the bill is passed, there will be provisions to remove or suspend negligent builders or corrupt businesses. Further steps will need to be taken however to ensure that certain individuals can’t be removed from the registry or industry, but then start up under another company name. This program is intended to highlight the good work being provided by reputable companies.

The need for a program like this in Alberta stemmed from the rebuilding of Fort MacMurray after the area was devastated by wildfires in 2016. A voluntary builder information program was initiated by the Canadian Home Builder’s Association – Alberta where builders provided a declaration of good standing before applying for a building permit. Over 190 of these declarations were submitted and are posted online to allow consumers to determine which builders to trust and which once to steer clear of.

In 2014, the New Home Buyer Protection Act introduced improved home warranty standards. The Act covered all residential developments from single family homes and recreational properties to high rise condominiums. This includes and covers many defects, from the misalignment of cabinets to squeaky floors. The below illustration shows what types of repairs are covered under specific warranties.

Warranty covered under the Builder Licensing Program

To learn more about Home Buyer Protection Act and Home Warranties in Alberta, visit this Government of Alberta web page.

Information sourced from the REMI Network, the Calgary Herald, and News 1130.

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