Mandatory home warranty coverage in effect

By Lindsay Ducharme

Buying a new home in Fort McMurray, and all across the province, is about to become a lot more appealing. On February 1st the Alberta government rolled out their New Home Buyer Protection Act. The Act, along with supporting policies and regulations now requires mandatory home warranty coverage, supplied by the builder, for all new houses and condominiums.

“I’m really pleased to announced today that Alberta is about to have the strongest new home warranty protection in Canada,” Ken Hughes, Minister of Municipal Affairs said.

“Starting February 1st a New Home Buyer Protection Act comes into effect, everyone in Alberta buying a newly constructed home or condo will now have a mandatory warranty. The minimum warranty will be one year warranty on coverage of materials; two years coverage on heating, plumbing and electrical systems; five years building envelope protection which is the protection that covers the exterior shell of the home including the roof and walls, with the option to purchase two additional years of coverage; ten years coverage on key structural components including the house frame and foundation. This is a solid foundation warranty coverage for any homebuilder that hopes to provide piece of mind to the owner,” he explained.

Along with announcement of the Protection Act, the government also rolled out a new website www.homewarranty.alberta.ca which contains a link to home registry where every home will be listed. “Someone buying a home after February 1st can quickly and easily find out about the warranty status on that home. The Government of Alberta rolled out better warranty standards to improve residential construction practices and provide consumer protection for all Albertans buying homes. The goal is to raise the quality of construction so homebuyers never have to use their warranty,’ Minister Hughes said.

While new home warranties have been common practice for some time, the Protection Act now holds builders and warranty providers more accountable for ensuring problems are fixed. Government officials stressed that new measures have been put into legislation to ensure warranties are complied with. With the Penhorwood fiasco never far from the minds of Fort McMurray residents, the new legislation would grant the government the power to penalize builders and insurers not complying with the warranty, instead of going through the courts initially.

“The enforcement under the statue of our new home buyer protection office has compliance officers who will monitor compliance with the items in the statute. The registrar has the authority to administer penalties and to initiate prosecution for severe breeches of non-compliance with the act. There is also another aspect which is that insurance contracts themselves are governed by the Insurance Act and looked after by superintendent of insurance. The homeowners, if in a dispute that’s indissoluble with their home builder and or their warranty company, have the option of going to the superintendent of insurance and invoking the dispute resolution process under the insurance act. So there are all sorts of ways for them to resolve those sorts of things,” Minister Hughes described.

“I’m really excited about the future of this province, we want to continue to ensure that Alberta is the best place in the world to live and to play and to raise a family and to work, now and well into the future. What I have announced today is a key piece of how our government is working hard to make Alberta an even better place to live,” he continued.

For more information on the New Home Buyer’s Protection Act visit the website at http://www.homewarranty.alberta.ca/.