Edmonton family sours on 'dream home' after insulation oversight, other problems

An Edmonton man is urging other home buyers to be cautious after unresolved issues turned his dream home into a nightmare.

House received city's stamp of approval despite missing attic insulation

Homeowner with huge bill finds no insulation in Attic of new home. 1:56

An Edmonton man is urging other home buyers to be cautious after unresolved issues turned his family's new home into a nightmare.

"It's not a dream home anymore," Jaspreet Noorpuri said in an interview. "We don't even call it a home. We call it a house — a place where we come and sleep."

Since taking possession of the house nine months ago, Noorpuri and his wife Richa Shota have discovered multiple problems, ranging from electrical issues to a lack of insulation in the attic, despite an occupancy permit granted by the City of Edmonton.

"We noticed that our upstairs bedrooms were like freezers," Noorpuri said. "How can the city say that this house is livable?"

The problems started when the two-storey, 1,710-square-foot home in the Laurel neighborhood of southeast Edmonton wasn't ready for the agreed move-in date in late April 2017.

Noorpuri says he hadn't been notified that the $420,000 home wouldn't be completed in time. He and his wife were able to move in by May 4.
Jaspreet Noorpuri and his wife Richa Shota, shown with their infant son Ayaan, say their new home wasn't finished properly and didn't have attic insulation. (Josee St-Onge/CBC)

In November, Noorpuri was in the basement when he saw sparks coming from an electrical wire that had a nail through it. Concerned for his family's safety, he turned off the breaker. Since then, half the house has not had electricity, he said.

In December, water from melting snow on the roof poured into the home, damaging the floors and ceilings. Water seeped through two ceilings and dripped down a light socket in the family room. Noorpuri, who has a background in engineering, suspects the water entered through vents in the roof.

Later that month, while Edmonton was in the grips of an intense cold snap, the house became bitterly cold.

Noorpuri, Shota and their infant son Ayaan slept huddled near the kitchen for warmth. Noorpuri eventually discovered that the attic had not been insulated.
Jaspreet Noorpuri says his family's new 1,7010-square-foot home in southeast Edmonton has been plagued with problems. (Jaspreet Noorpuri)

"It's my two-month-old son that I care about," Noorpuri said. "He was sleeping in the cold, and crying the whole night."

The build was managed by Harprit Singh, who owns Hollymoor Homes, a small Edmonton construction firm.

Singh admits that the lack of insulation was a serious oversight, but is adamant that he wants to work with Noorpuri to resolve outstanding problems.

Build had city approval

Noorpuri doesn't understand how the City of Edmonton granted an occupancy permit for the home. He questions the thoroughness of the inspection.

"The city needs to step up," he said. "The work needs to be double-checked to make sure people don't end up losing money."

Chad Rich, acting director of safety codes inspections with the city, said the builder obtained the correct permits throughout the construction process. Inspectors are not required to check the attic for insulation, Rich said.

He said insulation within walls is inspected during the framing phase, but attic insulation is usually installed later, after the drywall.

"We would recommend that the homeowner get in touch with the builder to get it rectified as soon as possible. Unfortunately, sometimes it's an oversight and doesn't get completed," Rich said.

Noorpuri's relationship with Singh has soured over time, and in September, Noorpuri banned the builder from his property.

Builder wants to resolve issues

Singh defends his work. He said Noorpuri signed off on a walk-through when he took possession of the house. The insulation issue was the result of human error on the part of a subcontractor, Singh said.

He said he hasn't had a chance to look at the other problems in the house because he no longer has access to the property.
Jaspreet Noorpuri says the attic of his new home was not insulated. The builder has since been back to add insulation. (Jaspreet Noorpuri)

Noorpuri doesn't accept Singh's explanation. He says the walk-through was rushed, and that the builder had multiple opportunities to fix his work.

The experience has left him tired and stressed. Noorpuri, who works as a tow-truck driver, said he's had to miss shifts to deal with all the house problems.

"I know that I'll be paying a mortgage for the next 25 years; my money is stuck in this house. So I'm stressed out. I'm to the point where I'll be in depression soon."

Hire a professional inspector

Noorpuri eventually turned to his new home buyer warranty provider for help. With the warranty provider acting as an intermediary, Singh returned on Jan. 5 to add insulation. The electrical problem and water leak are still unresolved.

Singh says he will continue to work with the warranty provider until Noorpuri is satisfied.

Meanwhile, Noorpuri hopes his story will help others avoid similar problems. He wants people to be aware that an occupancy permit doesn't guarantee that a house has been properly finished.

Home inspectors in the Edmonton area say that missing insulation in the attic is a rare occurrence.

Erik Schmidt from East Side Home Inspection has only seen it once in the last five years. He recommends potential buyers hire a professional inspector to avoid problems in their future home.

About the Author

Josee St-Onge

Journalist

Josee St-Onge is a journalist with CBC Edmonton. She has also reported in French for Radio-Canada in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Reach her at josee.st-onge@cbc.ca