This is not the place to cut corners in construction

When I read this today it reminded me of what became clear during the Barrett Commission hearings over a decade ago in British Columbia.  The many engineering assessments being conducted on leaky condos were turning up dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of building code violations. At one infamous New Westminster condominium well over 400 building code violations were discovered.

The vast majority of these violations had nothing whatsoever to do with the causes of leaky condos, but I believe there is a professional obligation for engineers to report all of their findings and so it should be. The sub-standard work of builders had been caught on a widescale basis.

During the 15 months I was under the tarps of my own leaky condo remediation back in 1999, we also found plenty of other building code violations unrelated to leaky condos.  As we replaced much of the builders work inside the suite we discovered even more crap.  The gyproc used in the guest bathroom was regular gyproc (not a cement-based product suitable for the application), the flourescent light ballasts were leaking black tar after 6 years, drywall nails popped throughout the entire suite, and the tape separated on every corner.  These pervasive building practices epitomize the term “jerry-built”.

Forward to 2006, yes we bought another condominium (because we like the lifestyle benefits) from a pre-sale office in Port Moody. 

Did you know that builders consider it okay to build uneven ceilings and floors, out-of-plumb walls, and out-of-square door frames? In fact the fix for an out-of-square door frame was to make a perfectly square quality manufactured door, out-of-square to fit, and the warranty company agreed it was okay. 

But wait a minute. What exactly is a defect? Who is this person disqualifying my claim and what qualifies him to make such ‘God-like’ decisions in abstentia (from behind a desk)?  And, how do I get a fair hearing?

According to one dictionary definition, a defect is an imperfection that impairs worth or utility; like in an out-of-square door. The employee of the warranty insurance company who is making judgement for warranty claims (the majority of times in favour of the builder) has no qualifications to be offering opinions on what constitutes a defect in a building. 

So now I’m forced into a claims process that is builder-friendly, expensive, seriously flawed and rarely used by the public experiencing problems.

To this day the builder has refused to furnish us with a copy the original deficiency list, neither will any of the so called “consumer protection” bodies and organizations force them to give us a copy.

While this story isn’t close to finished, I decided to post this now because it is important for consumers to understand what they are up against, and I hope this story helps.

“Buyer beware” remains a challenge because if there are reputable builders, or buildings, they are difficult to distinguish. 

The 2-5-10 warranty insurance program is basically worthless and allows corners to be cut in construction. The consumer has little protection or recourse. Even the best due diligence by a buyer still presents unreasonable uncertainty.

Cutting corners in construction…

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