More protections for homebuyers
To protect consumers and increase accountability in construction, residential builders will require a licence to build homes and secure warranty coverage starting Dec. 1, 2017.
The New Home Buyer Protection Amendment Act, passed in the spring, established a builder licensing program that helps consumers distinguish good builders from bad builders.
“Buying and building a home is one of the biggest financial decisions any family will make, and they deserve to be protected. We heard from homeowners and builders that licensing is an important measure to support consumers and the reputation of Alberta’s many skilled and trustworthy builders. Builder licensing, combined with mandatory home warranty, will make builders more accountable and give homebuyers more confidence that strong programs are in place to protect them.”
Licensed builders will be added continually to an interim online registry to help homebuyers select a reputable builder. This interim registry will continue to be developed during the transition to full licensing requirements on May 1, 2018.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the province on the implementation of builder licensing. Shining a light on builders in Alberta committed to standards and ethics will provide consumers with more information and confidence as they make one of the largest investments of their lifetime.”
When applying for a licence, builders must provide information about their finances, corporate structure and track record with safety and consumer legislation. Licences can be suspended, cancelled or have conditions placed on them. As set out in the existing home warranty program, people who build their own homes (owner-builders) are not required to have a builder licence.
Experienced builders in good standing who have built at least two new homes in the last two years may be granted a provisional licence so they can continue their construction projects while completing an application for a full builder licence. Provisional licences expire on May 1, 2018, when full licensing requirements take effect. All other builders must apply for a full licence if they intend to apply for new building permits after Dec. 1.
Builder licensing does not apply to renovations such as painting, deck building or finishing a basement. These types of renovations will continue to be regulated under prepaid contracting legislation.
- In February and March 2017, more than 1,200 Albertans responded to an online survey about a proposed builder licensing program. Three-quarters of respondents were in favour of government exploring builder licensing.
- There are approximately 4,000 residential builders operating in Alberta.
- Alberta has roughly 12 per cent of Canada’s population but has 20 per cent of Canada’s housing starts. There were 22,632 housing starts in Alberta in 2016.
- Almost $8 billion is invested annually in new residential construction in Alberta.
- Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec also have builder licensing programs in place.