Frequently Asked Questions

 

Builder

Permit Issuer

Consumer/Home Owner

Builder 
Q. How do I apply for a builder licence?

  • Application is online through the New Home Buyer Protection System Builder's Portal. Builders require access to the portal. Builders who have registered new residential homes previously may already have access. If a builder does not already have access, they must submit a request for access to the system in order to apply for a licence. Home builders can request access to the portal by submitting a NHBPS Access Request.

Q. What are the licensing fees?

  • An initial application costs $600
  • Each renewal application costs $500

Q. How long will it take to get a builder licence?

  • The Registrar of the New Home Buyer Protection Office will process licence applications as quickly as possible. The time it takes to process a licence application will depend on volume of applications and the complexity of applications.
  • To ensure timely processing of your application, all builders are encouraged to apply before March 31, 2018, in advance of the coming spring construction season.

Q. How do the licence fees compare to other jurisdictions?

  • The fees are $600 for a new application and $500 for annual renewal.
  • Ontario charges $2,500 for a new application and $500 annual renewal (this involves warranty application fees).
  • British Columbia charges $600 for a new application and $500 annual renewal.
  • Quebec charges $1,048 for a new general applicant and $1,378 for a specialized licence, with a range of renewal fees depending on licence type.

Q. How long is the licence valid?

  • For one year from the date of issue, unless otherwise stated by the Registrar

Q. What information will I need to provide to apply for a builder licence?

  • Applicants must provide information about their business including:
    • names and contact information for directors
    • photocopies of the driver's licences associated with all company directors
    • list of associated building companies
    • proof of acceptance by a warranty provider
    • any history of fraud or building-related court proceedings
    • any undischarged bankruptcies or arrangements under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act that have not been completed
    • a compliance record with safety and consumer protection legislation.

Q. What safety and consumer protection legislation are builders asked about? 

  • New Home Buyer Protection Act
  • Safety Codes Act
  • Condominium Property Act
  • Fair Trading Act
  • Occupational Health and Safety Act
  • Similar legislation of another province or county

Q. Where can I go for more information, or help with my licence application? 

  • For help with a licence application, refer to the web page Licence Application
  • In addition, there is a licence application users manual located here
  • If these resources do not answer your questions, contact builder licensing by emailing builderlicensing@gov.ab.ca or calling 1-866-421-6929 

Q. Are there different classes of licence? 

  • Yes, Developer and General Contractor

Q. Who is a licensed developer, and what can they do? 

  • A licensed developer is an individual or organization that manages, constructs or arranges for others to construct complex residential buildings.
  • When the project requires the involvement of a coordinating registered professional, the builder is required to have a developer licence
  • A licensed developer typically builds residential projects with five or more dwelling units, such as condominiums
  • They may sell new homes directly to a consumer
  • A licensed developer is not a land developer

Q. What is a complex residential building? 

  • A construction project requiring the involvement of a qualified person, defined as coordinating registered professional in the Alberta Building Code.

Q. Who is a licensed general contractor?

  • A general contractor builds single-family homes or multiple family dwellings that do not require the involvement of a coordinating registered professional (qualified person).
  • They may sell new homes directly to a consumer.

Q. What is a provisional licence?

  • A temporary exemption from licence requirements, intended to provide eligible builders with additional time to apply for a builder licence

Q. Who is eligible for a provisional licence?

  • Eligible builders who have previously registered at least two new homes in Alberta over the past two years may qualify for a provisional licence to provide them with some additional time to submit their application for a licence.
  • Builders who received an email from the New Home Buyer Protection Office requesting their input on a survey regarding provisional licensing.

Q. How long is a provisional licence valid?

  • Until May 1, 2018.
  • All builders are required to have a builder licence to obtain building permits for new homes, including condominiums.  
  • Builders are encouraged to apply for their licence before March 31, 2018, in advance of the construction season, to avoid processing delays that could impact their business.

Q. Do I need to bring my builder licence each time I apply for a building permit?

  • Yes, you will need to present your builder licence each time you apply for a building permit.

Q. Who is exempt from builder licensing requirements?

  • Owner Builders constructing their own home are not required to apply for a builder licence but are required to apply to the Registrar for an Owner Builder Authorization.
  • Some charitable organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, are exempt from builder licensing. The focus of builder licensing is regulating those in the business of being a builder.

Q. Does builder licensing apply to renovations?

  • Only when a residential construction project requires new home warranty coverage will the renovator need to have a builder licence. Other renovation activities do not fall within the scope of builder licensing.

Q. Are builders required to take courses in order to obtain a licence and maintain active licence?

  • Builders have expressed a need for better training for practices outside of trades.
  • Courses are not under consideration at this time. We want to implement builder licensing first and phase in courses over the next few years.
  • By phasing in training or course requirements, we will be able to first assess the program, determine strengths and gaps, and better align any required training to address the gaps.
  • Both British Columbia and Ontario have had builder licensing in place for some time and have only recently introduced course requirements.

Q. How do the licence fees compare to other jurisdictions?

  • The fees are $600 for a new application and $500 for annual renewal.
  • Ontario charges $2,500 for a new application and $500 annual renewal (this involves warranty application fees).
  • British Columbia charges $600 for a new application and $500 annual renewal.
  • Quebec charges $1,048 for a new general applicant and $1,378 for a specialized licence, with a range of renewal fees depending on licence type.

Q. Does builder licensing apply to the construction of condominiums?

  • Yes. The construction of condominiums is regulated under the New Home Buyer Protection Act, as is any new home construction. 

Q. Does builder licensing impact trade sub-contractors?

  • Trade sub-contractors are not required to have a builder licence. The builder is responsible for managing the project, including which sub-trades to hire and how much financial risk they will assume. Sub-trades are the responsibility of the builder and are not covered under builder licensing.
  • Alberta has a strong system of qualified tradespeople and competent builders. Builder licensing is about supporting those who do good work and helping them to differentiate themselves from those who don’t. Builder licensing will not impact trades.
  • Builder licensing would apply only to the construction of new homes, including condominiums and major renovations to most or all of an existing home. The majority of renovations requiring tradespeople are less complex and already covered under existing permit systems and prepaid contracting regulations.

Q. How will builder licensing benefit Alberta’s residential construction industry?

  • Builder licensing will support the overall integrity and reputation of Alberta’s residential construction industry.
  • Builder licensing is about supporting those who do good work, and helping them to differentiate themselves from those who don’t.
  • Builder information will be available online, which will enable anyone to know who the builders are that do good work and will help people make more informed choices when hiring a builder.
  • Disreputable builders will be held accountable, which will improve the quality and safety of residential construction and boost consumer confidence in the industry.
  • Reputable builders will not have to compete with those that cut corners, misrepresent the industry, or try to gain an unfair market advantage by deceiving homeowners.

Permit Issuer
Q. How will building permit issuers know if a builder is licensed? 

  • Licence status can be confirmed by checking:
    • Registrar's Home Registration Certificate
    • Certificate of Licence
    • Builder Registry

Q. MORE QUESTIONS & ANSWERS TO FOLLOW 

Consumer / Home Owner
Q. As a home owner, how does builder licensing affect me?

  • If you are a prospective buyer of a new home, there are some resources you can check before buying:
  • Is the builder Licensed? Online public registry of residential builders
  • Does the home have warranty? Alberta's home warranty registry

Q. I own a home, and I am looking to do renovations. Does my builder need a builder licence?

  • Builder licensing is required for renovations when a residential construction project requires new home warranty coverage

Q. How will Albertans know if a builder is licensed?

  • Only a licensed builder would be able to use the term 'licensed residential builder'.
  • The list of licensed builders is on the Builders Registry and is updated frequently

Q. How can I tell if a licensed builder built the house I'm buying?

  • A list of Alberta licensed home builders, including builders with a provisional licence, is located here. The list is updated frequently.
  • If your house was built prior to December 1, 2017, your builder was not licensed at the time of building your home. Builder licensing was implemented on December 1, 2017.
  • Your builder may be in the process of applying for a licence now, or awaiting receipt of a provisional licence.

Q. I do not see my builder in the builder registry. Should I be concerned? 

  • Not seeing your builder in the registry does not automatically mean you are at risk.
  • Your builder may still be in the process of receiving a provisional licence. When this process is complete, the builder information is added to the online builder registry.
  • Your builder may already be in the process of applying for a licence if they intend to apply for new building permits after December 1, 2017.

Q. The house I bought was built in September 2017. Should the builder have been licensed?

  • When your house was built, the builder was not required to be licensed. The builder licensing program was not yet implemented. Builder licensing begins on December 1, 2017.
  • The house, however, was required to be built with warranty as the New Home Buyer Protection program began in Alberta in February 2014.
  • Information about Alberta's new home buyer protection program is located here: www.homewarranty.albeta.ca

Q. What happens if I buy a home from a builder who isn't licensed?

  • The date of construction will determine whether the builder was required to have a licence
  • Effective December 1, 2017, all new residential home builders are required to have a builder licence
  • Without a licence a builder cannot apply for building permits, secure warranty coverage, build the home, or sell the home

Q. Alberta already has mandatory warranty coverage, why is builder licensing needed?

  • Albertans have shared many stories about poor home construction leading to massive repair costs
  • Until now, there have been no provisions to prevent a builder from building in Alberta, even under extreme circumstances such as fraud or imminent bankruptcy. Mandatory home warranty also does not address the standards for being a home builder
  • Consultation on builder licensing indicated that homeowners want builders held more accountable for their work. Builder licensing addresses builder accountability
  • Licensing builders will help prevent issues in home construction by requiring builders to be accountable for their actions. For example, a builder may set up a numbered company, dissolve the company, and then walk away from a business without any repercussion while transferring the cost and risk of a low-quality build to consumer. Builder licensing enables tracking of these types of practices, and those with poor track records may find their company without a licence.

Q. Who did government consult with to develop builder licensing? What where the results?

  • Municipal Affairs conducted targeted stakeholder engagement in February and March 2017 to hear stories from Albertans and determine the appropriate scope of a builder licensing program in Alberta.
  • More than 1,200 Albertans responded to an online survey, and 130 participants (homeowners, owner-builders, builders, renovators) attended 11 engagement sessions across the province. Three-quarters of respondents were in favour of government exploring options for licensing builders
  • Some themes that came out of the online survey and engagement sessions were:
    • a general lack of satisfaction with the current state of residential construction;
    • consumers feel there is insufficient information available to them when choosing a builder; and
    • consumers feel there is little accountability for builders and there is concern about the lack of requirements to be a builder.
  • Municipal Affairs also met with warranty providers, engineers and architects, government stakeholders, permit issuers, municipalities, and jurisdictions with builder licensing in place.

Q. What difference is builder licensing going to make for Albertans?

  • Home ownership is the largest investment Alberta families make, and Albertans have told us they want to be protected, informed and confident in their decision.
  • With builder licensing, there are now provisions to remove poor builders to protect consumers. Under builder licensing, builders who have demonstrated a pattern of disreputable behaviour or have consistently failed to meet standards may have their licence revoked.
  • Homeowners have expressed frustration with having limited access to information and not being able to easily or accurately research their builders. With builder licensing, consumers will have access to consistent and reliable online information about licences and licence holders to help them make informed decisions.
  • Throughout the consultation, we also heard frustration from homeowners who felt like they were on their own when it came to the residential construction process with no assurance that someone was looking out for them. Builder licensing, combined with mandatory home warranties, will increase builder accountability and will help homeowners feel confident that mechanisms are in place to protect their interests.

Q. Does builder licensing pass extra costs onto to consumers?

  • Home ownership is the largest investment Alberta families make, and Albertans have told us they want to be protected, informed and confident in their decision.
  • The average builder in Alberta builds approximately seven homes per year. Using the $500 fee for licensing renewal, the yearly cost per home would be roughly $80.
  • In general, housing prices are determined by supply and demand, and, much less directly, by underlying costs, such as materials like lumber, Ultimately, high demand by consumers, consumers confidence and availability of supply will determine housing prices. An underlying cost in the form of licensing fee is, therefore, unlikely to be passed onto the consumer in any appreciable way.
  • Date modified: 2017-12-01