Province launches new licensing for home builders

In a move designed to protect homebuyers, the province is establishing an enhanced licensing system for residential builders that will take effect in the summer of 2016.

The system will require home builders new to the industry to demonstrate their proficiency in key areas before they receive a licence. Home builders who already have a licence will not have to apply for a new one. The licences must be renewed annually.

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“Our goal is to protect new homebuyers across British Columbia. We worked with the construction industry to make these changes, raise the bar of professionalism and maintain B.C.’s position as a leader in the residential marketplace,” said Rich Coleman, minister responsible for housing.

The new scheme is being applauded by builders, many of whom say it’s long overdue.

“This is something we have advocated for forever,” said Casey Edge, executive director of the Victoria Residential Builders Association.

Edge said the new regulation is especially timely as the province requires new homes to be more energy efficient.

“As the B.C. government has ratcheted up energy efficiency, we have requested mandatory education and training for builders because as homes become more energy efficient the margin for error diminishes,” he said.

Newcomers must have a licence before they can work in the industry. To receive one, they are required to take recognized courses in seven areas related to residential construction, including the B.C. building code and related regulations, construction management, construction science that includes knowledge about things such as building envelopes and mechanical systems, customer relations, basic accounting, legal issues and business planning.

To renew their licences each year, the province’s 6,000-plus builders have to prove they’ve completed professional development related to residential construction.

Qualifications can be met through a combination of education and experience. The province said there will be no additional licensing fees for builders.

The enhanced licensing system will be phased in over the next 16 months to give the industry time to prepare for the new requirements.

Last year, more than 30,000 new homes were built in B.C. About 11,695 were single detached houses and the rest were in multi-unit buildings.

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