It is difficult to understand the motivation of our provincial government to throw so much of the housing ministry’s resources into another initiative (this time 6-storey wood frame buildings) that does nothing to improve homeowner protection in BC.
How are the same people that can’t build a 4-storey building right, possibly going to achieve a defect-free and safe 6-storey building?
According to reports from the Homeowner Protection Office (HPO), home buying is still very risky business, and British Columbians are being lulled into a false sense of security with a home warranty insurance program full of exclusions, limitations, and other “weasel-worded” disclaimers and representations.
The 2-5-10 warranty insurance excludes coverage for settling of 3 and 4 storey buildings and provides consumers little protection as it exists, requiring homeowner to deal with issues by their own means. If we start building 6-storey, effectively adding 50%, with so much settling (wood shrinking) already being experienced, it seems that we could be on the brink of yet another building industry faux pas.
Furthermore, it would be absolutely scandalous to discover that the industry has had the technology and solutions to prevent settling all along but haven’t been using it to protect British Columbians.
A 6-storey building vs. a 3-storey building, is a very scary proposition given the disastrous track record* (*After the self-regulated NHW failure, the leaky condo disaster, a continued inability to build quality homes against minimum standards, an ineffectual HPO, and developers overbuilding causing our current over-supply problem) of the building industry.
With such a record, why is the home building industry allowed to continue to run roughshod?
Even though we haven’t come to the mid-point of the leaky condo disaster (according to this HPO report), it seems the minister has conveniently forgotten about it and is racing ahead with another unproven technology again.
The HPO urgently needs to return to basics, remembering that their primary role is protecting British Columbians and not catering to the developers and builders, or wandering all over the map with initiatives on green building codes, modernization strategy, next generation conferences, 10th anniversary video productions, etc.
There are serious life safety issues (fire, seismic, etc.) that haven’t been addressed and need to be proven safe before any unwise decisions are made around implementing any 6-storey wood frame building codes. We need fail-safe (idiot proof) building processes and systems first.
Since the HPO has still not committed to undertake to develop or adopt a meaningful measure of housing quality towards fulfilling their legislated protection role, or public expectations, it is worrying that the HPO can continue to shirk their basic responsibilities.
There is no accountability because the HPO still fails to measure specific quality, defects or claims. How can the HPO possibly rate a builder? See the questions at the end of a June 25 Press Release on this link.
The building industry lags so far behind other industries it needs to be reeled in with the tightest controls possible to prevent any further disasters and until they can prove they can build a quality home.
The over-riding question is, how will this proposed change to allow the building of 6-storey homes better protect the homeowner or new homebuyer?
There is no indication of any improved homeowner protection.
Neither is there any word yet from the architects, engineers, fire department and building officials, or other professionals; perhaps that says it all.