A consumer report from the United States has found that "increasingly, buyers are discovering that their new dream home has serious defects and that they have more consumer protections for a fickle $20 toaster than for a flawed investment-of-a-lifetime" (ConsumerReports.org, Jan. 2004, p. 1). This is not only an American phenomenon; unfortunately, many Canadians are facing these problems as well, e.g.,
- Many Canadians have heard about the leaky condo crisis of British Columbia. According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) British Columbia's Homeowner Protection Office estimated that there are approximately 65,000 "leaky condos" in that province.
- In 2000, hundreds of purchasers in Toronto experienced delays for years in obtaining their new condominium because of problems related to the land ownership.
Visit the link: http://www.cbc.ca/consumers/market/files/home/newhomes/index.html
The Ontario New Home Warranty Program did not protect these new home purchasers.
- In the winter of 2002, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) Ottawa television produced a series entitled Home Sweet Home, for which they heard from more than 1,000 viewers. Problems featured by the CBC included a well respected Ottawa builder highlighting what he called a "downward spiral in the quality of new homes", a well respected Ottawa home inspector raising issues regarding the faulty installation of ductwork and the installation of floors, and frustrated homeowners describing non-responsive builders and a non-responsive Ontario New Home Warranty Program (recently renamed to Tarion Warranty).
- By the spring of 2004, approximately 50 homeowners of Ottawa's Hunt Club Enclave realized they have serious foundation problems.
In extreme cases, Canadian homeowners have become "Housewrecked". (This is when home purchasers face very serious consequences as a result of purchasing a home, e.g., the loss of life savings, serious health issues.)
According to ConsumerReport.org (Jan. 2004), there are often serious hidden defects in many newer homes. The fast pace of construction during today's building boom is the cause. Often builders are facing a lack of qualified labourers. However, there are other challenges, e.g., homes becoming more complicated to build due to demands for energy efficiency and environmentally sound products and there are pressures to keep costs down so that homes are affordable and profitable. These, too, are challenges facing the Canadian market place.
Inspection processes related to new Canadian homes appear to have deteriorated significantly in many regions throughout our country since CMHC got out of the home inspection business. Homeowners, engineers, building inspectors, and even some builders are no longer prepared to accept the problems often found in new homes.
The purchase of a home is usually the largest single purchase consumers make in their lifetime. If homeowners become aware of serious defects and Building Code violations in their new home and can't get them fixed by the builder or through their provincial new home warranty program, they may find themselves with a house that is difficult to sell. Homeowners must disclose all known defects when selling their home, and by doing so, could make it difficult to recover their initial investment costs. This could result in a potential loss of revenue rather than providing equity on their home investment.
Loss of potential investment income isn't the only concern - a poorly built/renovated home can lead to serious health problems, e.g., from mould or carbon monoxide. Significantly greater protection for homeowners is essential.
Purchasers of resale homes also need to be concerned. Again, according to the CMHC, the leaky condo crisis of BC has been exacerbated by the sale of problem homes without full disclosure to subsequent buyers.
This has led to the creation of Canadians for Properly Built Homes – a Canadian not-for-profit, national consumer protection organization, that operates with a volunteer Board of Directors, which is supported by a volunteer Advisory Council including industry experts.
For all of the above reasons, "Canadians for Properly Built Homes" has been established to effect necessary and meaningful positive change to the building and renovation industries in Canada.
CPBH has earned "partner" status with the Canadian Consumer Information Gateway (Industry Canada).