Constructing a home? Ensure a builder is licensed before signing a contract
Ross McLaughlin and Lisa Green, CTV Vancouver
Published Monday, March 28, 2016 6:00AM PDT
Last Updated Tuesday, March 29, 2016 4:15PM PDT
Did you know it’s your responsibility to ensure a home builder is licensed before you sign a contract to build a home?
In B.C., all new homes have to be registered for a new home warranty - and all builders also have to be licensed. Queency Marfa learned this the hard way when she hired Steel Dragon Construction to build her new home more than a year ago.
Her old house was demolished almost immediately but the work hasn’t been started on the new home yet. Why not? The building permit was a problem because Steel Dragon Construction is not a licensed home builder.
Marfa says she only found this out after signing the deal to build for $344,000.
Steel Dragon offered a warranty but not the kind B.C.’s Home Protection Office wants.
“That's not the requirement under the act," Wendy Acheson from the Home Protection Office told CTV News after looking at the contract. “A homeowner really has to make sure that their builder is licensed with the Homeowner Protection Office."
Jacquie and Clayton Tomandl run Steel Dragon Construction. Clayton is the director, but Marfa says Jacquie handled all the money and did all the talking.
CTV News reached out to Jacquie, and she called us back.
“We are licensed in six municipalities, we've got $5-million in liability insurance, we have WCB (WorkSafeBC) and it was supposed to be an owner-occupied build," Jacquie told us over the phone.
Owners don’t require a builder’s licence to build a home their own house, but they do need an exemption to do that and none was on file with the Home Protection Office in this situation. However, Marfa said she had no plans to build the home herself which is why she hired Steel Dragon Construction to do the work.
Marfa also says her bank needed proof a licensed builder was involved before providing a loan.
A month after signing the contract, Marfa adds, Jacquie sent her a text stating: “We have relatives at the city and there are ways around it. We will get it figured out.”
Steel Dragon Construction also told CTV News that another builder’s licence in now on file for the new home build - but the B.C. Home Protection Office still isn’t satisfied.
"We'll definitely investigate them for contraventions of the Home Protection Act, " said Acheson from the HPO.
Marfa wants out of the contract and believes that Steel Dragon Construction should give her most of her $80,000 deposit back, but she may have to go to court to get it. CTV News talked to a lawyer who said because the company is not properly licensed a judge might rule in Marfa’s favour.
Further, penalties can be assessed for contraventions of BC’s Home Protection Act. They can be as much as $25,000 for each violation.