New Homeowner Protection Office (HPO) regulations and an enhanced licensing system for residential home builders will serve to protect homeowners, says Shane Hawkins, owner of Hawkins Construction.
Hawkins has been building houses in the Powell River area for more than a decade. He says the BC government’s new requirement that all general contractors follow new regulations and enhance their current licences through HPO, a branch of BC Housing, will give homeowners peace of mind that their homes are being built to the highest standards.
“Being a licensed builder is way more of a science than just being a guy with a hammer,” says Hawkins. “We have to attend mandatory schooling throughout the year to be educated and stay current on code changes and building practices.”
As of March 6, the new HPO builder qualifications require that all general contractors demonstrate proficiency in areas related to residential construction, including home-warranty insurance, management/supervision, customer service, financial planning, budget management and construction technology.
In addition to the new requirements for professional home builders such as Hawkins, the HPO also introduced new eligibility criteria for anyone wishing to build a new home as an owner-builder.
Effective July 4, those who wish to build their own home will need to pass an Owner Builder Authorization Examination, along with paying an authorization fee of $425. Homeowners are then legally responsible for their work for up to 10 years after the build, no matter how many times the home is sold.
Hawkins says this makes the choice to hire a licensed builder more attractive for most homeowners.
“I’ve seen the test criteria for owner-builders and it’s no walk in the park,” says Hawkins. “Why would you want that responsibility? Why not use a licensed builder?”
HPO also recently established mandatory professional development in the building industry by requiring that all general contractors who have renewed their licences after October 2015 take continuing training as a condition of their renewal.
All of these new regulations are ultimately working to help homeowners, says Hawkins. “I love it, it’s great. It’s bringing the industry out of the dark ages,” he says. “The more regulations to protect the homeowner, the better. It’s all about the end user; the one paying the bill.”
Compliance with the Homeowner Protection Act for residential builders, homeowners and developers now includes these new regulations and licensing requirements. This compliance ensures all homes being built or sold in BC are covered by home-warranty insurance where required.
“Licensed builders like myself have a lot to lose if we’re not compliant,” says Hawkins. “Those who don’t comply have to pay fines and could lose their licence. We post a substantial bond when we first get our licence and the money is not released until the warranty expires on our last build. All of that protects the homeowner.”
Hawkins Construction builds custom houses, from land clearing to occupancy. The company also provides project management and renovation services.
Hawkins can be reached at 604.483.1216 or by email at email@example.com.