Leaky condo owners in Alberta want better inspections

Dozens of condo owners in north Edmonton say they are facing thousands of dollars in repairs and are calling on the government to better inspect new buildings.
Owners in this north Edmonton condo complex say they have to pay thousands of dollars to repair water damage, even though the building is only seven years old. (CBC News)

Some north Edmonton condo owners facing massive repair bills — and the possibility of losing their homes — are calling on the province to do a better job inspecting new buildings.

"This is our home. We love this place. It's close to everything we need. It was affordable, at one time," said David Tomchuk, who bought a condo with his wife Gloria at the Palisades two years ago.

The 240-unit building, which was built only seven years ago, now needs $6 million in repairs due to water damage.

Gloria and David Tomchuk say their $18,000 repair bill is forcing them into foreclosure and out of the condo they've owned for two years. (CBC News)

Tomchuk said the couple wasn’t able to play the $14,800 repair bill they were given and were unable to remortgage. They are now in foreclosure.

"We've been turned down by basically every bank in the country.... We're first time homebuyers and we got our first letter of demand last week," he said.

Others in the complex are also dealing with high costs.

Bernie Leverenz and her husband bought a condo in the building in 2005.

They say they’re now stuck with a $18,000 bill.

Leverenz says the provincial government has failed to make sure that new buildings in Alberta have been properly constructed.

"You have worked hard all your life done without anything from the government and the province chooses to have no inspections for buildings," she said.

"Did we ever think this [would happen]? No, we didn't."

Province introducing 5-year warranty program

NDP MLA Dave Eggen, who represents the riding, says the province should have caught the problems with the building before people moved in.

"It’s unacceptable that the inspection process here in the province of Alberta allows this sort of shoddy workmanship to take place, not only in the Palisades, but in the rest of Alberta," Eggen said.

NDP Municipal Affairs critic Deron Bilous says the province needs a better inspection system to prevent homeowners from getting ripped off. (CBC News)

The Conservative government plans to introduce a bill forcing home builders to offer a warranty on their work for at least five years, which it says will help buyers who discover problems later on.

Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths says the province may look at an option to cover work for even longer.

"Some problems develop after the first year but most develop within three to four years, he said.

"So you still want to have warranty to cover, that right up to some things like the major constructional components of the house or building need to be covered up to ten years."

Deron Bilous, NDP municipal affairs critic, said the province has been promising an expanded warranty program for years. He said better inspection is the best way to stop problems like those in the Palisades.

"An inspector signs off on the building, such as this one, yet it’s the condo owners that have to foot the bill," he said.

"A warranty isn’t worth the paper it is printed on if there isn’t going to be proper inspections."