Whitehorse Daily Star

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NDP MLA Kate White

MLA reiterates need for home warranty program

The Yukon government says it will explore the idea of an effective warranty program for new home construction and home renovations.

By Emily Blake on October 12, 2017

The Yukon government says it will explore the idea of an effective warranty program for new home construction and home renovations.

Yukon NDP MLA Kate White raised the issue Wednesday in the legislature.

She asked the government to develop and introduce homeowner protection legislation that includes a warranty program and mandatory licensing for home builders and contractors.

“Even the fact that we’re going to entertain this conversation is important,” White told the Star this morning.

“I think this is a great opportunity to have a community dialogue.”

Currently in the territory, she noted, condominium groups and home owners have to take builders to court to recoup costs from repair work.

“That’s not acceptable,” she said.

White added that a home is typically the biggest purchase a person will make in his or her lifetime. Meanwhile, other big purchases like new vehicles don’t get sold without a warranty.

“What I ultimately want to make sure of is that when we know that people are going to buy the single largest asset in their lives, the second they sign that cheque, they don’t lose everything they put into it,” she told the legislature.

White also pointed to legislation in other jurisdictions in Canada where homebuyers must be provided with a third party warranty.

The “gold standard”, she said, is the 2-5-10 year home warranty in British Columbia and Alberta.

This provides two years’ coverage for defects on labour and material, five years’ coverage on the building envelope, and 10 years’ coverage on major structural items.

“Why would we not want to offer home buyers here the same confidence and the same protection?” she questioned.

Community Services Minister John Striecker told the house the government is open to looking at best practices across Canada, making sure that a home warranty program would fit in with existing programs, and engaging with local contractors.

He said that programs in other jurisdictions are not without problems. Those include adding costs to construction and placing a “regulatory burden” on home builders.

“We need to balance the risks to our citizens. It is a good conversation to have,” he said.

Streicker also noted that, “we’re not starting with nothing.”

“The Department of Community Services is confident that we currently operate a robust building inspection process for new buildings and renovations,” he said.

Currently in the territory, new home construction and home renovations must comply with safety standards under the National Building Code and Yukon laws for electricity and heating.

Before being deemed as meeting the code, a building will receive between five and eight inspections by a Yukon government or City of Whitehorse building inspector, Streicker said.

The building safety and standards branch also inspects electrical, gas, elevators and large boiler installations in municipal buildings.

Mobile homes have to meet the Canadian Standards Association’s safety code during factory construction.

More red tape

Yukon Party MLA Brad Cathers also expressed concerns that legislation could add more red tape and costs for small home builders.

But White said issues arise when the inspectors leave, as they can’t be on site 24/7.

The vast majority of home builders won’t be adversely affected because they stand by their work, she added.

“All contractors are not created equal,” she said.

“This is not meant to be a punishment to those who build really quality buildings and stand behind their products.

“This is more to make sure that if you were unfortunate and hired someone who you thought was building your home, you have the ability to address those issues.”

This is not the first time the issue has been raised in the legislature by the Yukon NDP.

It was first brought forward by the late Todd Hardy, then the leader of the party. He said he spent most of his professional career as a carpenter fixing improper work, White reminded the house.

It was debated again in 2012 after being raised by former NDP MLA Kevin Barr.

White noted that 2012 was the “pinnacle of the housing crisis” and the conversation “got a little heated.”

Based on past debates on the issue, White said she is glad that the government is open to public consultation and hopes that ultimately it leads to effective change.

Comments (7)

Up 7 Down 7

Politico on Oct 14, 2017 at 10:12 pm

As a person who is being forced to pay $25K for a 7 yr old house I want to know why we don't have a program like this. This is the 3rd problem with our new house, all of which cost money. The consumers are forced to pay for the cheats and the governments that refuses to protect people.

Up 6 Down 3

Salar on Oct 13, 2017 at 11:43 pm

As if real estate isn't expensive enough in this ridiculous market...up it goes...you can marvel at the opposition when they clearly wouldn't want to implement the very thing they are taking the ruling party to task on....hard job if you can get it...

Up 5 Down 4

Groucho d'North on Oct 13, 2017 at 3:53 pm

Perhaps government could co-float an insurance program for any and all homes passed and certified as building code and other related policies compliant by their building inspectors?
That way all certified homes could be covered rather than only the new ones. Banks could be partners in the program too, especially as a certified home reduces risk for the mortgage lender.
Contractors would be the third leg of this stool as they are also responsible for the quality of the home.
Each of these three bodies makes money off the sale of homes and other buildings, it's time they ponied up something that can add value and not at the consumer’s expense…like nobody would pass these costs down to the end consumer.

Up 17 Down 2

Simon on Oct 13, 2017 at 1:46 pm

Why instead of writing and attempting to pass legislation then enforce an expensive program, doesn't the government simply publish an online registry of contractors whose licenses are in good standing, operations are in compliance and who had their work recently inspected?

Bonus: the government already has all of this data in its hands.
This registry would provide an open, transparent way for buyers to know from whom they should probably have their home built or which home they should buy.

Up 14 Down 0

Maybe... on Oct 13, 2017 at 1:31 pm

We recently found out that the 13 year old home we purchased 10 years ago has some major deficiencies. Specifically, there was missing insulation around the exterior doors and incomplete exterior wrapping. Our home was built by a "reputable home builder" that is still in operation today. Given the age we would be out of luck with the "ideal BC warranty program" and I doubt that I could even approach the builder today to have it fixed.

Up 12 Down 2

wundering on Oct 13, 2017 at 11:15 am

Why would you do this if ????
"The vast majority of home builders won’t be adversely affected because they stand by their work, she added".

"This is more to make sure that if you were unfortunate and hired someone who you thought was building your home, you have the ability to address those issues.”

Up 25 Down 3

Yukon Justice on Oct 12, 2017 at 5:49 pm

In the eighties there was a home warranty program. It was a rip off and went bankrupt. Contractors lost their membership fees and registered houses had the warranty cancelled.
A warranty program is cumbersome, expensive and difficult to manage.
The solution, hire a good honest contractor and forget the warranty program.

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