“Holmes on Homes” teams up with “Marketplace”…

Canada’s Investigative Consumer Show, Marketplace, and Mike Holmes, HGTV’s contractor of Holmes on Homes, collaborated for a CBC episode entitled, “New Home Nightmares“.

Although it only scratches the surface, this production demonstrates how the legislative system in Canada is badly broken leaving home buying consumers at the mercy of unscrupulous home builders and developers, and ineffective protection agencies and government.

As inadequate as the minimum standards of the building code are (Holmes calls it, “minimum code crap”.), they are still not being met, nor are they being properly enforced.

The negligence on behalf of government is so widespread consumers are believing that home warranty protection in Canada is for the builder.

Holmes says, “inspectors should be fired, builders should be in jail”.  Whose job is it to check for fraudulent practices when independent home inspectors consistently find more problems than the warranty provider inspectors?   Is it time for the RCMP, or Sheila Fraser (AG) to get involved? Clearly a major investigation and overhaul needs to be done.

The subtitle of this episode asks and then responds, “Think you’re safe from problems when you buy a new home? Think again!” If you have any inclination to buy a new home anywhere in Canada this might just be the best advice available: “Think again!”

Just a side note on homeowner champion Mike Holmes, last year I read an email sent by the Holmes on Homes Story Producer, Brian Warchol, to a victim requesting help.  Here is an excerpt: “As the Story Producer for Holmes On Homes, I wanted to let you know that I do read all the story submissions.  It is personally very heartbreaking for me to know that there are so many people in desperate need of assistance.  We have received more than 70,000 requests for help this year”   So when Mike Holmes says, “this is the standard crap I’m used to seeing“, and, “I’m getting tired of hearing about these problems“, he has good reason.  

Across Canada it is, “same crap, different pile“!

As the volunteer president of “BC’s Housing Consumer Advocate” I hear these same stories every week; consumers not getting what they had expected, warranty claims denied by unqualified employees, unable to navigate their way through the bureaucratic labyrinth, unable to get any satisfaction, etc.

I believe the production team of this Marketplace program just touched the surface to give us a sample of a Canadian pandemic; good job by the way.  

I’ll close my comments with a question to ponder: “How exactly is quality defined in the building industry”?

4 thoughts on ““Holmes on Homes” teams up with “Marketplace”…”

  1. This is a very sad commentary on the state of the home building industry.

    I suspect many of the requests sent to Holmes on Homes never end up scored in the statistics collected by either the provinces, or the organizations to which the responsibility, in some cases, has been downloaded.

    It makes one wonder how many people don’t even bother to fight (or report) a system that favours the building industry rather than protect consumers?

    The result is skewed reports fed to the media on how well the building industry is doing; NOT!

    While the role of Marketplace and Holmes On Homes, informing consumers on weekly TV, is useful and greatly appreciated, it is time for the industry and government to get their heads out of the sand.

  2. We are indebted to CBC Marketplace and Holmes On Homes for raising the issue of inadequate new home protection in Ontario and the failure on the part of municipalities to even come close to properly inspecting newly built homes for Ontario Building Code compliance. We have personally seen home after home, after home that have been constructed with code violations that lead to major structural problems with people’s homes, and result in the financial and emotional ruin of families.

    What is particulary incidious about this whole issue is the fact that the building industry includes a tightly knit interdependent network of planners, engineers, builders, municipal inspectors, surveyors, real estate agents, politicians, lawyers, etc., that all rely on one another to maintain a ‘code of silence’ about housing defects, in order to maintain their bread and butter illusion that newly built homes are safe.

    The Ontario provincial government has created a protective cloak for negligent municipalities. As elected bodies, there is an illusion that municipalities altruistically administer and enforce the OBC, but the truth is, municipalities depend on development dollars to grow their tax base because of the responsibilties downloaded to them by the province. If constructing houses to even the minimum standards of the OBC cuts into profits, builders have no incentive to build, especially in communities that offer little else besides low housing costs to commuters.

    The Ontario government gives municipalities full autonomy over development and OBC code compliance approvals, meaning they are virtually immune from prosecution for neglegence and/or investigations into the possibilty of corruption. Their social status not only sheilds municipalities from prosecution, but it forces victims of severely defective newly built homes to either patch and run, or subject themselves to the risk of bankruptcy by suing municipalities with deep public pockets. When new house repairs cost half the original puchase price, consumers can feel nothing but unsafe. Those who cannot afford the cost to repair what their builders sold them, continue to live in their unsafe houses. Those who manage to find a way to escape their particular new home purchase nightmare, remain in a state of post traumatic stress, knowing resale houses are no more safe than what they have just left because those houses were also inspected by municipal inspectors.

    An RCMP investigation into the actions of key players in high profile new home nightmares is a good idea, but perhaps a better idea is for the provincial and federal governments to be honest with the public and see how many houses continue to be sold in this province or across Canada for that matter. Mr. McGuinty, Mr. Harper, tell the public that your governments have given builders permission to stop building homes in Canada, years ago. The structures that are being sold under the guise of “home” are in fact, investment properties, designed to turn a profit for the builder, the investor, and several of the building’s subsequent owners. In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with making money from real estate transactions. However, when these structures are constructed as defectively as many are, at some point, someone loses big. If you were to tell new house purchasers that they are not buying a home, but are instead, making an investment in a structure that may be so severely defective that they may be the ones to lose their entire life’s savings, and if they remain in the structure, their family’s health may be in serious jeopardy, sales may fall.

    Taxpayers, the electorate, deserve to know the truth. We deserve to know the new housing industry has become just another commodity to be bought and sold on the market. The “home” label instills an illusion of nurturing, safety, comfort, and family well-being, but the truth is, after purchasing a newly built “home” in Ontario, my family has been forever scarred from ever feeling safe in a newly built home.

  3. Hi William,

    Since you are not the first person to ask for contact information here is The Holmes Foundation link:

    Below are 2 more recent samples of correspondence received back by a viewer correspondent. These are shared to demonstrate how busy he is being kept by homeowners nationwide. It appears we have a pandemic on our hands in Canada.

    From: Feedback@HGTV.ca
    Date: February 2009
    Subject: RE: HGTV Television
    Thank you for contacting HGTV.
    Please visit the Holmes on Homes website at http://www.holmesonhomes.com for information on specific programs, casting opportunities, advice and various other features. Please note that Mike is no longer available for personal consultations or renovations.
    HGTV Viewer Relations

    From: autoreply@holmesonhomes.com
    Date: February 2009
    Subject: Thank you for your email
    Reply-To: autoreply@holmesonhomes.com
    Thanks for your email. We are now receiving thousands of letters weekly from our viewing audience. It’s no longer possible for our small team to personally respond to each and every request.
    NEW SERIES: Mike has just begun production on a new series called “Holmes Inspection” that profiles home inspections gone wrong. “Holmes Inspection” will start airing in Fall 2009 on HGTV Canada. If you’ve recently purchased a home in the Toronto area – based on a positive home inspection – and found hidden problems after you moved in please send us your story! Mike also has a new series called “Holmes in New Orleans” which is scheduled to air in Canada on Global and HGTV in March 2009.
    ADVICE FROM MIKE: For those who are requesting advice from Mike Holmes, please understand that proper advice can only be given after considering all the factors involved in a given situation, and this requires a comprehensive inspection of the home. Due to Mike’s full-time job as a contractor, he is unable to make personal inspections. If you need a qualified assessment of your current renovation, or the condition of your home, an inspection by a licensed Residential Structural Engineer, in your area, might be an appropriate place to start.
    CONTRACTOR LISTING: As you might expect, Mike can only recommend contractors, suppliers and trades people he has worked with professionally. For a listing of those, look to our Holmes on Homes™ Contractor listing on our website. We are not able to offer legal advice.
    GENERAL QUESTIONS: Articles with answers to commonly asked questions can be found in the Mike Holmes Online section of our website listed under Mike’s Resources. The Mike Holmes Fan Forum is also a good place to post your questions. If you are looking for Mike’s opinion on a wide range of homeowner related topics, please read Mike’s books “Make It Right™” and “The Holmes Inspection” or refer to his weekly newspaper column in The Globe and Mail.
    Please refer to our site map for a complete listing of our online resources & features.
    We hope these sources will assist in finding the information you to the answers you need to move forward.
    Thanks for your support!
    The Make it Right™ Team


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