Presidential Appointee to the Canadian Home Builders’ Association’s National Executive Committee!

One great way to judge the abilities and talents of someone is to ask their competitors who they would choose to represent them. It’s that old adage – if you want to hire someone to do something for you, ask everyone who they would recommend aside from themselves. The name that comes up again and again is probably the best choice.

And now, the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) is choosing Larry Clay to represent them.

The CHBA is a group that has been representing the residential construction industry since 1943 and is made up of more than 8,500 companies. They work together to ensure that both the government and home owners and buyers understand what the other wants and needs, all while protecting their industry.
The Executive Committee is a group of seven elected leaders and up to two appointed members, chosen by the President, that meet to oversee the operations of the CHBA.

This year, the President selected Larry Clay to represent the Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association as well as the Canadian Home Builders’ Association of BC.

This isn’t the first accolade that Mr. Clay has received from this group. He was named the First Master Residential Builder in BC by the CHBA of BC. By completing all required courses that focus on residential construction in BC, he was able to become to the first person in BC to achieve this designation.

Mr. Clay has also won several Georgie Awards, which are awards handed out by the Greater Vancouver Home Builders’ Association for excellence in home building and renovation.

If you’re looking for someone to talk to about your new home building project, why not talk to someone who’s at the forefront of the CHBA and is a leader in the home construction industry. Clay Construction is that company that other companies will recommend because they know they’re one of the best in British Columbia.

BC Housing

BC Housing – Licensing and Consumer Services: The Defender of Quality

Building a new home can be an exciting and rewarding venture. Support and protection to homeowners is offered through the government agency – BC Housing and its Licensing and Consumer Services branch. In addition, public for-profit companies provide 2/5/10 warranty for homes in BC.

The Licensing and Consumer Services (LCS) branch administers the Homeowner Protection Act and helps protect the consumer. When unethical builders and homeowners try to circumvent the law and get caught, they are subject to stiff penalties. See this link for disciplinary actions against disreputable builders and homeowners.

If a homeowner chooses to act as the contractor and build their own home, they are considered Owner Builders. As of July 4, 2016, anyone who wishes to build a new home in British Columbia as an owner builder must apply for an Owner Builder Authorization and pass an exam. The exam is designed to test an applicant’s knowledge and understanding of home building basics as well as the statutory obligations and requirements that owner builders must meet under the Homeowner Protection Act. This will help owner builders expand their knowledge, improve the quality of construction, and protect subsequent buyers of owner-built homes.

It is critical to note that it is illegal for an Owner Builder to hire another contractor to build their home using the Owner Builder exemption.

BC Housing – Licensing and Consumer Services

Formerly known as the Homeowner Protection Office (HPO), the Licensing and Consumer Services (LCS) branch of BC Housing, is the government agency responsible for licensing residential builders and administering Owner Builder Authorizations. They have the power to cancel the license of the builder and levy financial penalties. Ultimately, they protect the consumer by ensuring that new homes are covered by home warranty insurance. Wendy Acheson is Vice-President & Registrar of Licensing and Consumer Services, and also the person you will often see in the news. She is responsible for administering the Homeowner Protection Act, overseeing licensing compliance and consumer-service operations. Wendy has led important initiatives to increase the quality of residential construction and strengthen consumer protection. LCS also monitors the provision of third-party home warranty insurance.

Warranty Providers

Builders are responsible for arranging home warranty insurance through a warranty provider.
The warranty provider issues a 2/5/10 home warranty insurance policy when the home is completed or occupied and provides the following protection:
• One year on defects in materials and labour or violation of the Building Code.
• Two years on defects in materials and labour supplied for the mechanical systems, as well as for the exterior cladding, caulking, windows and doors, that may lead to detachment or material damage to the new home and violation of the Building Code.
• Five years on the building envelope includes the components that separate the indoors from the outdoors.
• Ten years for defects in materials and labour that result in the failure of a load-bearing part of the new home, and for any defect that causes structural damage.

There are four warranty providers in BC: Travelers, National, WBI and Pacific. It is illegal to build a house without registering the home with a warranty provider. Unscrupulous builders continue to ignore the laws and put at risk not only themselves but homeowners as well.

When looking for a builder, make sure they are licensed with BC Housing and one of the four warranty providers. It is illegal to build a home and not provide 2/5/10 warranty insurance.  Non-compliance with the Homeowner Protection Act and its Regulations can lead to a monetary penalty of up to $25,000 or imprisonment for a term of not more than one year, or both.

The English idiom, “A pound wise, a penny foolish” provides timely wisdom when choosing a builder. Ultimately, you get what you pay for. Happy Building.

Larry Clay
President of Clay Construction
Vice-President of GVHBA

New Home Myth

Destroying the New Home Myth

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” Benjamin Franklin

Sadly, too many people are taking possession of their brand-new home only to find that it is far from the perfect home they were anticipating. From the obvious poor quality of finishing and poorly thought-out features to the concealed mould behind the walls and inferior mechanical equipment, many new homes do not meet their expectations of excellence. New homeowners are routinely disappointed by the quality of their finished home. Are their expectations too high?

Comparatively, when purchasing a new car, we expect flawless perfection. In fact, whether the car is from Detroit, Toronto or Vancouver, we expect all cars to be virtually identical in their high quality. As well, there is an expectation homes that have been built to our BC Building Code/Vancouver Building Code and have passed inspections will reflect the same flawless perfection that exists in a new car. Why not? Unfortunately, this is not the case with most new homes.

To most people, the Building code is a high standard but in reality, the Building Code is a minimum standard. There is a comical expression in the industry that declares, “Homes built to code are the lowest form of building that you can legally build in Canada before being thrown in jail!” As one would expect, a home built only to code should not instill much confidence. Which High School student proudly announces to their friends, “Yeah! I earned 51% on all my subjects?” Why is this acceptable for builders? Inferior builders view the code as a high standard to achieve while first-class builders view the code as a minimum standard that needs to be exceeded.

The building code establishes standards that protect us and make our homes safer. For example, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors must be installed in homes and the bedroom windows must meet egress requirements to allow safe passage in the event of a fire. This code will also specify standards that increase the longevity, durability and efficiency of the home. City inspectors will ensure that there are no building code violations during their frequent inspections.

During the building process, homes are also inspected by third party engineers retained by the builder or architect. For example, for permit applications, engineers will specify how roof loads are to be supported down to the foundation. In addition, beams are specified to transfer loads from above and the foundation is engineered for the loads placed on it. At inspection, the engineer will make sure all requirements have been followed and the structure of the home has not been compromised by the mechanical trades. For instance, inexperienced trades may cut through trusses, joists and drill through point loads sacrificing structural integrity. Engineers will inspect to make sure all structural members have not been compromised.

Admittedly, without this building code, our homes would be even worse than homes built today. Without this standard, unscrupulous and unethical builders would find even more areas to eliminate and the quality of our homes would be dismally low. Critically, the homeowner needs to be educated by the builder on the value of building above code in strategic areas. This approach will improve the homes health, durability, efficiency and attractiveness while respecting the budget.

All homes are not created equal. Be wise and hire a builder who is professional, honest, and competent – these builders will not be the lowest priced. A German proverb states, “The cheapest is always the most expensive.” Lowest price produces lowest quality. Your new home will only be as good as the builder; so choose wisely.

Truth or Fiction?

They Don’t Make Them Like They Used To: Truth or Fiction?

Materials, craftsmanship and design might just make the new home of today, the character home of the future. More importantly, it is the engineering, building science and application of a minimum building standard that will result in our future homes being more durable, healthy and efficient.

Like most people, I hate to see these opulent character heritage homes removed from our streetscape forever. These homes have history and were built for influential people like judges, doctors and wealthy business merchants. They have a level of craftsmanship and quality of materials seen from only in the finest homes of that generation.

Truthfully, these magnificent homes are rare but do the vast majority of homes that are demolished have the same level of workmanship and quality of material? Are all older homes from previous generations quality, well-built homes? There is an adage, “They don’t make them like they used to.” Does this apply to homes as well?

The remainder of the article will be comparing average older homes with today’s average new homes. Let’s look at some facts and compare in several critical areas.

Remember the basement of your grandparent’s home that smelled musty and felt damp? These basements were never intended as living spaces. Damp proofing was minimal or nonexistent resulting in a basement that often-had moisture issues. Lack of insulation and vapour barrier under the concrete basement slab worsened the issue. The older clay draintile was inferior and prone to failure and floods.

Current newly built homes have a damp proofing spray applied to the exterior of the foundation wall with a plastic dimpled drainage mat secured over the surface of the damp proofing coating. This provides a drainage cavity for water to drain down to the superior PVC drainage piping protecting the basement from water infiltration. In addition, a poly vapour barrier is installed and rigid insulation is often installed under the concrete basement slab. This keeps the basement dry, warm and comfortable making basements more livable than their predecessors.

Older homes were not built to our current engineering standards. Foundations did not have steel and many had no footings which provide support to the foundation. This would cause uneven settling with one corner of the house or porch dropping several inches. Floor joists were undersized resulting in a floor that was bouncy and squeaky. Roofs were hand framed with no engineering and eventually the ridge of the roof would sag.

All new homes must be built to engineering specifications and inspected. Footings and foundations are larger with steel installed. Floors assemblies are engineered to carry the load from above and beams are correctly sized. Trusses are also engineered to withstand snow loads and not fail. New homes are much less likely to experience large amounts of settling, failure of structural members or squeaks in floors.

Climate change has necessitated more stringent standards for protection of homes from hurricanes, snow loads, and driving rain. We need to build the home to withstand the potential weather patterns in 50 years. The same applies to earthquake protection. More attention has been given to building homes that can withstand an earthquake which could level homes from decades ago.

In the past, fuel was either free or inexpensive; older homes did not need to be airtight or efficient. With the escalating price of fuel, it is not prudent to operate a leaky inefficient home. Current energy building codes are vastly superior over the homes build generations ago that applied few standards.

Asbestos, lead paint, formaldehyde, and mercury were prevalent in older homes. In addition, precautions were not taken to mitigate the deadly radon gas. New homes are healthier with products that have undergone extensive testing to be verified as safe. Albeit, time will tell which harmful products we continue to unknowingly place in our homes.

When an older home undergoes a renovation, we try to replace the old and dangerous knob and tube wiring or the aluminum wiring with the current code approved copper wiring. Circuit breakers are safer and less fixtures are installed per circuit. The same upgrades would apply to the plumbing, heating and ventilation as well as many other areas of the home.

In conclusion, the fabulous handcrafted character homes need to be protected but the same does not apply to the average older home. Builders are providing a service replacing dilapidated, unhealthy, unsafe and inefficient houses with durable, healthy, safe and efficient homes. Future generations will benefit from our advances in engineering, building science and application of a minimum building standard. Love your new home.