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Information for Homeowners

Building a home can be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for some and it can seem overwhelming. As a homeowner you have an essential role to play in the rebuild of your home, even when you’ve hired the right contractor for the job. It’s important you know what steps are required so you have the tools you need to make sure your home is built well, according to the rules, safely, and as soon as possible so you and your family can return home.

Before Construction

Choosing Your Home Building Contractor

Choosing a reputable and skilled home builder is integral to the success of your own family’s rebuilding. Be sure that your builder is on the Registry of Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Builders. You need to research quotes to get the best price option, ensure that qualified tradespeople are used on your build and protect yourself against scams or unnecessary liability.

Why is this Important?

Building a home can become more complicated than it needs to be if you don’t do your due diligence. Choosing the right builder will avoid financial or legal complications

Negotiating and Signing a Fair Contract

A professional builder should always provide you with a written contract that both parties must sign before work begins. For complex repairs, renovations and custom home construction, the contract can become fairly lengthy and will need to include full plans and specifications. A written contract — not a verbal one — states your role and the builder’s role, as well as the methods of recourse in the event of dispute or damage.

Why is this Important?

Your contract protects you in the event of a dispute with your home builder.

Getting Your Permits

The RMWB Planning and Development Department is the authority responsible for issuing permits for new construction and regulating work to maintain quality and safety. To build, you will need multiple permits, including a Development Permit and a Building Permit, as well as electrical, plumbing and gas permits. The contractor must apply for their own permits. If you are completing the work, you can apply for your permits. It is important to understand that if you are a homeowner obtaining permits, you must complete the work. All contractors must obtain their own permits to complete any work on your property. This is to protect you, the homeowner, and to prevent unqualified and unlicensed contractors from performing unsafe and non-compliant work.

For all rebuild properties or properties that were damaged as a result of the wildfire, permitting fees have been waived. Contractors should not be charging you for permitting fees, so review all quotes and verify that the permitting fees have been removed.

Why is this Important?

Permits verify that your new home is designed safely and does not pose any risk to you and your family. It is illegal to build without proper permits.

During Construction

Understanding What Goes into Your House

The Canadian Mortgage Housing Corporation maintains the Canadian Wood-Frame House Construction publication. It is a widely used reference for numerous college and university courses and is one of many continuing efforts by CMHC to provide accessible, affordable and sustainable housing for Canadians.

Why is this Important?

Being informed about recommended sustainable products and building practices will guide you in your decision making and give you the knowledge to hold your builder accountable.

Understanding Builders' Liens

A builders' lien is placed on a home when contractors, subcontractors or suppliers are not paid for their services. As the homeowner, this could make you responsible for paying that subcontractor if legal action is filed. Protect yourself with a holdback against the work to be completed by your builder (an agreement to withhold a percentage of your total payment until such a time that liens cannot be filed on your home).

Why is this Important?

Understanding liens allows you to protect yourself from having to pay a contractor who has not been paid by your builder and gives you the knowledge to have liens removed sooner.

Insurance and Workers Compensation

Did you know that you can be liable if a contractor is injured while working on your property? Protect yourself and your contractors by ensuring they have appropriate insurance and Worker’s Compensation Board (WCB) coverage before they begin working on your property. General contractors insurance to cover public liability and property damage is also necessary.

Why is this Important?

If your contractor does not agree to be the prime contractor on the project and accept responsibility for on-site injuries, you are liable if one of your contractors is injured. Ensuring that your contractors have appropriate insurance coverage will protect you and the contractors when something goes wrong. This could save you money and legal proceedings in the long run.

Before Moving In

Before you move into your new home, it is important to verify that all final Safety Codes inspections have been completed. To confirm this, contact the Safety Codes Branch 780-743-7813, email inspections@rmwb.ca, or visit Civic Insight. For the safety of you and your family, do not to occupy the home until the RMWB Safety Codes branch has approved the home for occupancy.

A permit services report will be generated identifying that your home is ready for occupancy. It will be important to obtain this information prior to occupancy. The banks and Lawyers should be requesting this information so be sure to have this paperwork available to prevent any delays on moving home.

Marks of Industry Standard

There are a number of organizations which measure and rate the safety or quality of tools and equipment based on universally accepted standards. When you are completing your rebuild, knowing the symbols which indicate a quality product can help make your build safer.

Why is this Important?

Markings can help you to more easily identify trustworthy, quality materials and builders which will support a successful build for you and your family. Markings also identify that the product meets Canadian standards and are allowed to be used in Canada.

Wildfire Rebuild  [Learn more]

Winter Maintenance Zones are relaxed [Learn more]