Alberta unable to protect condo owners

Victims of shoddy condo builders in Edmonton cannot rely on the Alberta government for help or even much protection, admits the province.

Long awaited condo rules coming, province promises

Workers are resealing the exterior walls of the eight-year-old Glenora Gates condo building. (CBC)

Victims of shoddy condo builders in Edmonton cannot rely on the Alberta government for help or protection, admits the province.

"It's absolutely terrible and awful what people are going through," said Ivan Moore, assistant deputy minister of Alberta Municipal Affairs. "The unfortunate thing is we don't have the tools as yet to provide them with the protection we're building.

"And all we can do at this point in time is sympathize with them, and let them know, what you're going through is at least going to help us make things better in future."

CBC News spoke to Moore after interviewing tenants of two leaky Edmonton condos who face huge repair bills.

Under current provincial regulations, the developer of the condos — Rossdale Court and Glenora Gates — cannot be held accountable.

Engineer Al King (far left) speaks to colleagues at Glenora Gates. ((CBC))

Engineer Al King says the lax legislation keeps him hopping. Glenora Gates is just one of five leaky condos his company WADE Engineering is retrofitting. 

Glenora Gates is only eight years old, but requires $5 million in repairs to seal the exterior walls, said King.

"We have these problems coming up after the developer has turned over the building to condo boards who have a very short window to find deficiencies, often only a couple of months, and in some cases no time whatsoever, before the warranty period ends and the developer is off site," he said.

"It's a huge issue."

The province needs to make inspections of condos mandatory during their construction, said King.

Had that been done at Glenora Gates, the problems would have been caught, he said.

The province said it is hoping to introduce regulations around condo construction this fall.

Alberta is looking at adapting the B.C. model, which demands a two-year "bumper-to-bumper" warranty period where builders must correct any deficiency; a five-year warranty on exterior walls and roofing; and a 10-year warranty on major structures, said Moore.

The province is also considering bumping fines for failing to comply with building codes from $15,000 to $100,000 for the first offence, and from $30,000 to $500,000 for the second.