Building a home from ground up is a very difficult task and there are a lot of steps involved when you have made this decision as opposed to buying a completed home.  From budgeting and planning, going through the necessary hoops to obtain your building permit to hiring the right trades for the job can be very challenging.  This guide should assist you to provide a better understanding of the steps involved in the necessary options and steps involved in obtaining a Builder Permit in order for you to start your new home.

There are 2 ways to submit for Building Permit in B.C.:

1. Owner Builder Exemption through the Homeowner Protection Office (HPO) which is the provincial body which governs the Homeowner Protection Act.

  • As an Owner Builder, you are basically declaring that you will be building a home for yourself to occupy and you will act as the General Contractor. You are also not able to sell the home as an Owner Builder once it is complete / occupied for a certain period of time which is usually 12 months in nearly all cases.

2. Obtaining the minimum mandatory 2-5-10 Warranty.

Hiring a Licensed Residential Builder - also see article on Hiring a Builder.

Becoming a Licensed Residential Builder yourself - also see artcile on Becoming a Licensed Residential Builder

Tips for Selecting Trades

Get it in Writing!

Be it your contract with your builder or trades which you are hiring directly; be sure to get as many details of your negotiation / agreement in writing. This would include details such as price, when payment is due (if installments, at which periods), what warranty or guarantees are being provided on labor and materials, exactly work they will be performing and what is including. For example, when hiring someone to complete the excavation, does this include drain tile and all materials (i.e. drain rock) to complete the scope of work provided. During busier times, it is best to be in a situation to ensure that you are always in a position where you owe the trade enough money to ensure that it is in their best interest to come back and complete the work when paying in installments; the reason being is that if they have too much of a retainer and they are busy with other work where they have the potential to make more money, your job will most likely get delayed.

  • Request references – go and view their previous work if possible.
  • Always request more than 1 estimate, 3 is usually a safe bet – also compare what the estimate includes if applicable (i.e. materials).
    • If the trade is providing materials, you may request additional details to ensure the material meets requirements and it is a quality product.
  • Request a copy of their liability insurance – particularly for major trades such as the plumber, electrician, excavation contractor and roofer.
  • Where applicable, request a copy of their Certificate which confirms their designation – for example, a certified plumber or electrician.

Sometimes it is things which seem most obvious which need to be said. You should be viewing work during construction regularly and if something does not seem right or you are not satisfied with something, speak up right away! It is your hard earned dollars you are spending and most often, it is easier to change a detail sooner than later or having to live with something you see everyday which you do not like.