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Another West Kelowna, B.C. family alleges shoddy work, misleading documents in new home purchase

From alleged shoddy work to misleading occupancy documents, a West Kelowna, B.C. family says their pre-construction purchase has left them in a ‘nightmare situation.’

And now another family has come forward with similar complaints about the same builder: AHA Custom Homes Ltd or also known as Silverway Custom Homes Ltd.

Watkins and Sarah Livsey say they found 22 pages of deficiencies including what appeared to be second-hand material and exposed pipes. But according to the couple, the builder responded to their concerns saying that the city of West Kelowna granted unconditional occupancy.

“The document that we received from our builder implied that there was unconditional occupancy but the actual document, that exists and that we have a copy of, shows that there was actually conditional occupancy,” Livsey told Global News on Thursday.

“So they didn’t have unconditional occupancy, there was a list of at least six things including glass railing across the rooftop deck.”

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City officials confirmed on Monday that the builder was not granted unconditional occupancy but rather a conditional one.

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“I can only tell you what we’ve got in our files and our file shows that it was a conditional occupancy. That’s all we’ve ever approved,” said City of West Kelowna chief administrative officer Paul Jibbs.

“During the process and towards the end … the developer came in and received what we call a conditional occupancy or provisional occupancy, where as long as certain things are taken care of, they’d be allowed to occupy the building.”

Homeowner Jessie Angus, whose home was built by the same company, says after talking to Watkins and Livsey she believes her occupancy letter appears to have been cropped.

“[Monday] I actually found out from the city over the phone that my occupancy report that I received from my builder actually had 15 items on it that made it conditional occupancy,” said Angus.

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“The occupancy report that I received from my builder is cut off at the bottom and there’s nothing listed there. So I just found that out [Monday], and I don’t have a copy yet of the occupancy report.”

Angus and her family have been living in the home since August and are now anxiously awaiting to find out what those conditions are.

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“I moved in here with my five-month-old baby and my husband and my mother to a home that was incomplete. I was led to believe that there was only a few things left to finish and that occupancy would be provided,” said Angus.

“I’m fearful of what these 15 items are and what that means for my family and that my baby was living here with no idea if all the health and safety concerns were met.”

Meanwhile, Angus says they also found similar deficiencies as her neighbour throughout their home, including drywall issues, windows with bubbles and what she says is a faulty garage door.

“The city inspector has been back to our home about three times. And each time that they’ve come they’ve said that that door needs to be shutting automatically on its own and that’s to code. So I’m thinking that that’s one of the reasons that we still don’t have final occupancy in our home,” said Angus.

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The City of West Kelowna inspects homes for the building code, but Jipps says builders should be going beyond the minimum requirements.

“The building code generally looks after your basic building components, the structural components, your health and safety standards like handrails, guardrails, smoke detectors, openable bedroom windows,” said Jipps.

“If somebody says they’re building to meet building code, that’s the worst way to build something and get away with legally because it is the minimum standard. People are allowed to build better than that. And then we always encourage them to reach higher than just the minimum standard.”

He went on to say that there are steps that homeowners can take when they feel the end product is not meeting standard, adding that homeowners can work with the city and the Homeowner Protection Office (HPO). Every new home built in B.C., must be registered with HPO by a developer registered with them.

“If this was to continue, and we were to hear more complaints about this developer, the process would come back to the city,” said Jipps.

“Then we could look at if this is a standard way they deal with people then we may refuse to issue my business licence because they shouldn’t be doing that kind of work in our community.”

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Both families have been in contact with the city regarding their concerns.

“We feel regrettable when this situation happens to especially a young family moving in. This is our community, these are our residents and we don’t like to hear stories like this,” said Jipps.

“So anything we can do, we will be trying to support them as much as possible.”

According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), no complaints have been filed against AHA Custom Homes Ltd or Silverway Custom Homes Ltd.

However in a statement, the organization encouraged consumers to consider a few tips when hiring someone to work on your home.

  • Research and gather information
  • Ask for references and inspect prior work
  • Keep a hardcopy of everything
  • Think about future warranty / service issues.

Global News reached out to the builder AHA Custom Homes again, but they did not respond to our request for an interview.

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