A Surrey family was shocked to discover the new home warranty they relied on to protect them was worthless when they needed it the most.

One of the reasons Rajinder Boyal and her family purchased their new townhome was because it was still under B.C.’s new home warranty insurance program.

“We thought if we bought an old house it’s going to cost us so much money,” she said.

What she didn’t realize was her attic had a ventilation problem and an independent inspection confirmed mould patches throughout the space. It’s expected to cost the family about $4,000 to fix.

But when Boyal went to file a warranty claim she was denied.

B.C. Housing oversees the home warranty protection program. Construction defects are covered, but there’s a time limit.

Homeowners have one year to make a claim for anything that goes wrong with their property. Claims for defects in plumbing, heating and ventilation need to be make within two years. The envelope is covered for five years and you have 10 years to file a claim for structural defects like framing and foundation.

Even if you’ve been living in a new home for a while it may be in your best interest to get it inspected.

“If you get that inspection it will help you determine if there might be some claims you want to make,” said Wendy Acheson, VP of licensing and consumer services with BC Housing.

It was only after the Boyals put their townhouse on the market that a buyer’s inspector caught their issue.

“It’s not the homeowners' fault,” said Dale Badh, the Boyal’s real estate agent, “If these people hadn’t sold the property they may never have gone up into the attic. If the warranty is not going to [fix it], then they should force the builder to do it.”

Ross McLaughlin contacted the general manager of Archstone Projects. He said he was familiar with the issue, but wasn’t interested in seeing it for himself. He said he would rather rely on the warranty company.

“We have to pay for it now. We have to get it fixed before we go,” said Boyal, “If we bought another home, we want to make sure this time we’ve done an inspection before we buy something.”

Boyal can still appeal the insurance company's decision and can also apply for mandatory mediation. There could also be a chance that they might get it covered under the building envelope warranty which is still in effect.

As for how often this happens, BC Housing says there are disputes from time to time and in grey areas it's not uncommon for the ruling to side with the homeowner.