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05:34

Government rolls out plan to licence Alberta homebuilders

The government introduced legislation Thursday that it hopes will put shoddy homebuilders out of business.

The new program requires builders to have an active licence to build homes, which confirms they have the proper skills and are in good financial standing.

The government will also now have the authority to cancel or suspend those licences when a builder is known for inferior work. Until the program comes into effect, the government has no ability to do that. The bill also calls for an online registry of licensed home builders to help consumers get information about builders.

Municipal Affairs Minister Shaye Anderson said he had been told about a need for this bill from consumers and homebuilders alike.

"People are making the biggest purchase of their life and they want to make sure the person building it has good financial stability, is a good home builder, has good credentials," said Anderson. "They want to make sure their family is safe."

If the bill is approved, the government expects provisional licences to roll out in November and the program to get fully off the ground a year from now. Any builder who is in the middle of a build when the program starts will be able to continue it with a provisional licence.

In a month-long consultation period in February and March, the government heard that more than three-quarters of respondents want to explore a program for licensing builders due to a "general lack of overall satisfaction with the current state of residential construction."

The licensing program applies to renovations that affect more than 75 per cent of the home's footprint, so kitchen or bathroom jobs will still be covered by the Fair Trading Act and not the new program.

The legislation was partly inspired by the rebuilding process in Slave Lake after a massive wildfire in 2011 destroyed about one-third of the town. The province heard complaints that buildings were not completed or completed poorly and that residents were dealing with "fly-by-night" builders who were difficult to work with.

Officials in the municipal affairs department say it's also a problem more generally, as the speed of residential construction can lead to leaky condos and other building problems.

Similar licensing programs already exist in Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario, meaning about 75 per cent of Canada's population lives somewhere with these protections.

The licences will cost $600 for a first-time licence and $500 for renewal, which is on the lower end of costs throughout the country.

sxthomson@postmedia.com

twitter.com/stuartxthomson

source : Calgary SUN
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