Overview

Under the New Home Buyer Protection Act, owners who wish to build their own homes without a builder licence must apply for an owner-builder authorization that is issued by the Registrar.

Once approved, an owner builder can obtain building permits without a license and choose whether or not to purchase warranty.

Owner-builders are responsible for the construction quality of the homes they build, just like other builders. For this reason, owner-builders cannot sell their homes within the 10 year warranty period unless they have purchased warranty coverage.

The new home warranty holds the owner-builder accountable for the quality of the home and protects the next homeowner.

Owner-builder authorization

Owner-builder authorizations are for single-family, site-built homes that will be the primary residence of the owner-builder. Owner-builder authorizations do not apply to multi-family homes (such as, duplexes, four-plexes), rental homes, or factory-built homes constructed wholly or partially off-site.

An owner-builder must meet the following criteria:

  • Intend to live in the home as their primary residence for at least 10 years.
  • Be the registered owner of the land where the home will be built. They must either be the sole owner, in a joint tenancy or in a tenancy in common. Corporations are typically not eligible.
  • Intend to personally engage in, arrange for or manage all or most of the construction, including:
    • controlling, supervising and overseeing the building site
    • procuring materials
    • hiring, directing, scheduling and paying tradespersons and other labourers
  • The land title must be “fee simple”. This is listed on the Certificate of Title.
  • Not have previously contravened New Home Buyer Protection Act.
  • Not have provided any false or misleading information on a previous application.
  • Not have been approved for a previous owner-builder authorization within the past 3 years.

Those who do not meet the above criteria may still submit an application with an explanation as to why their situation should be considered.

Owner-builders cannot obtain a new home building permit without an approved authorization.

Application process

Consider the following before applying for owner-builder authorization:

  • Financial lenders may require warranty. Discuss your plans with your lender before you submit your application for owner-builder authorization.
  • If you build without warranty but decide to sell before the end of the 10-year protection period, you will need to obtain home warranty coverage before selling the home. A warranty provider may:
    • request detailed information about the home and the construction process
    • determine the cost of warranty coverage by using a risk assessment model
    • refuse to provide new home warranty coverage
  • There is no guarantee that you will be able to obtain warranty coverage during or after your home is constructed and lived in.

Constructing with warranty

Owner-builders are free to secure home warranty coverage, however, this coverage will only protect future owners if the owner-builder has to sell the home.

Discuss the details of this coverage with warranty providers prior to enrolling. The Alberta government does not regulate the cost of warranty.

Not all warranty providers in Alberta offer coverage to owner-builders.

How to apply for owner-builder authorization

Step 1. Read the user manual

The Owner Builder Portal User Manual (PDF, 1.5 MB) provides:

  • an overview of the options available to owner-builders
  • how to apply for an owner-builder authorization
  • how to manage payments
  • instructions on how to register an owner-built home constructed with warranty
  • how to obtain a Registrar's Certificate

Step 2. Request access

Submit a NHBPS Access Request online to become a user of the New Home Buyer Protection System (NHBPS). Requests are processed within 5 business days.

If you experience issues with the online access request or have questions on how to register, please email nhbps.access@gov.ab.ca.

Step 3. Apply for authorization

Once access is granted, complete the Application for Authorization. The application must include:

  • The questionnaire and statutory declaration for EACH person listed on the land title and anyone over 18 years of age who will reside in the home. The completed application and statutory declaration(s) must be printed off and commissioned by a Commissioner of Oaths. Check with your local registry office for commissioner services.
  • A list of major subcontractors.
  • A copy of the final inspection report once occupancy is granted.
  • The $750 application fee. Payment can be made online or by cheque payable to the Government of Alberta.

You are responsible for the accuracy of the information submitted. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

Mail completed documents to the Residential Protection Program, including payment if by cheque.

Mail your application to:

Residential Protection Program
Alberta Municipal Affairs
16th Floor, Commerce Place
10155 102 Street NW
Edmonton, Alberta  T5J 4L4

Step 4. Application review and approval

Applications are not complete until the signed, printed and mailed application form and Statutory Declaration are received, the online form is electronically submitted, and the fee are all received.

Applications are reviewed in the order they are received. Recommendations are usually made within 14 business days of the receipt of the complete application. During peak construction times, this may take longer than 14 business days.

Once approved, the registrar certificate is granted and applicants will be contacted by email.

Contact

Connect with the Residential Protection Program:

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Phone: 780-644-1010 (within Canada and United States)
Toll free: 1-866-421-6929 (within Canada)
Email: rpp@gov.ab.ca