A condo owners association wants Nova Scotia to take tougher action to protect buyers against shoddy builders.

Ray Hunt bought a condominium in 2004 and soon discovered he had a $1.7 million problem.

“I spoke to the inspector and I said, ‘Why wasn't this picked up at the inspection?’” Hunt said Tuesday.

But the building had not been independently inspected. Hunt was on the hook for $16,000 of the repairs. Hunt was stunned that a building selling units for between $150,000 and $300,000 had so little official oversight.

“I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that you can build something in Nova Scotia without having the place inspected by a competent authority and not the guy who builds it,” he said.

He and others started the Condominium Owners of Nova Scotia. It found that many other buildings have similar problems. It wants better regulations.

Call for provincial changes

Lorne Verabioff, also of the group, said reform is needed.

“The process isn't working. Every new building has problems. Some are minor and some are major, and it’s the major issues that are of concern to us,” he said.

“When you have a multi-residential building or condominium built that has the windows installed upside down or inside out, there's something wrong. That is an incompetent building.”

Verbioff says most major issues don’t show up until after the one-year warranty expires, leaving the owners to pay for shoddy work.

His organization is lobbying for changes at a provincial level. It also offers seminars for potential condo owners. It warns them of the risks and advises buying a condo that’s at least five years old so any construction problems will have been discovered.