By Gail Johnson | Pay Day


Homeowners looking to do renovations need to do their homework when it comes to hiring a contractor. You know the drill: ask around for recommendations, pore over photos of a company’s past projects, check references, and shop around to see how competitive their rates are. But all too often people overlook a crucial factor: insurance.


“If the contractor falls off a ladder [on your property] and they’re not properly insured or if they’re not covered by worker’s compensation, then you’re liable and you could have a big bill on your hands,” says Bob de Wit, CEO of the Greater Vancouver Home Builders' Association. “It can be huge.


“If something awful happens,” he adds, “you’re out of luck.”


Although insurance is often the last thing on a homeowner's mind when planning that new kitchen or an addition, they need to ensure they’re covered for injury, damage, or theft throughout the renovations. For instance, who covers the cost if someone swipes your new cabinets or fixtures waiting onsite to be installed? What happens if the workers end up smashing your neighbour’s window? And as de Wit points out, what if a worker breaks his neck tripping over a cord?


According to the Canadian Homebuilders Association, renovators should carry commercial general liability insurance, usually with a minimum of $1 million, although they may carry more. Besides covering bodily injury, it also provides coverage in the event of damage to your home or neighbouring properties as a result of renovation activity.


“Ask the renovator for proof of liability insurance and for proof of workers' compensation for employees of the company,” de Wit says, meaning get your hands on a hard copy rather than just taking someone’s word for it.

It’s also a good idea to look into your own home insurance policy. Typically, a policy is based on "regular usage of the home", but renovations could be considered an "extraordinary" event that may fall outside your current plan agreement.


Plus, a major renovation could increase the value of your home, which would mean changes (and an increase) to your plan.


If you plan on being your own contractor and hiring employees to carry out the work, the CHBA suggests you read the fine print on your home insurance policy. Many plans have a standard exclusion related to professional liability, and you might have to arrange for additional coverage for your renos in case someone gets injured on your project.

Then there are permits. “If it’s a significant renovation, it requires permits from the city,” de Wit says. “If the contractor doesn’t get the permit, and, say the house burns down because the wiring is bad, potentially you may not have insurance for that either.”


Liens are another factor to be aware of. Suppliers or subcontractors may have the right to register a lien on your property if they’re not paid for their work or materials. (A lien is a notice claiming a right to be paid from the value of your property.)


Look for contractors who have professional certifications and memberships in credible associations, de Wit suggests. He points to RenoMark as an example: members follow a code of conduct and ethics, provide warranties, are members of their local home builders’ association, and have legitimate business licences (as opposed to doing work under the table).


Another tip? Get a detailed written contract as opposed to a verbal agreement. Oh, and as anyone who’s been through renos themselves will tell you, count on the project taking longer than anticipated and likely costing more.




The Strata Property Act sets out three voting thresholds and various criteria for voting within a strata corporation:


1) Majority Vote


Matters at general meetings are decided by a majority vote, unless the legislation or the bylaws require a 3/4 vote or a unanimous vote. The Act defines the term majority vote as, "a vote in favour of a resolution by more than 1/2 of the votes cast by eligible voters who are present in person or by proxy at the time the vote is taken and who have not abstained from voting."


The inclusion of the phrase "at the time the vote is taken" is critical. Similarly, when counting votes, the phrase "and who have not abstained" means that those who have abstained must be subtracted from the number of otherwise eligible votes.


Matters such as the approval of the budget, the election of strata council members, providing direction to the strata council and ratifying rules are examples of resolutions that require a majority vote.


2) Three-Quarter Vote


The Strata Property Act defines the term 3/4 vote as one "in favour of a resolution by at least 3/4 of the votes cast by eligible voters, who are present in person or by proxy at the time the vote is taken and who have not abstained from voting." This means that the number of abstentions must be subtracted from the number of eligible voters.


Common resolutions that require a 3/4 vote include cancelling a strata management contract, ammending bylaws, spending funds from the contingency fund, raising funds by a special levy, authorizing litigation in the name of the strata corportation, and approving a significant change in the use or appearance of common property.


3) Unanimous Vote


The Act defines the term unanimous vote as "a vote in favour of a resolution by all the votes of all eligible voters." This definition effectively requires the vote of every single eligible voter, not just those who are present at the time if the vote.


The most common resolutions that require a unanimous vote are resolutions to approve contracts that are not at arms' length to the developer after the first conveyance and before the first AGM, to approve a different formula for calculating a strata lot's share of expenses, to amend the strata plan to designate or remove designations of limited common property or common property, to change the Schedule of Unit Entitlement and to cancel the strata plan.






If you're planning to look for a new home sometime in the future, you may be wondering how long the process will take. How much time should you set aside for viewings? How many of the listed homes should you see?


Of course, the process varies from person to person. According to the Department of Housing & Urban Development, home buyers view an average of 15 properties before finally choosing to make an offer on one of them. That number may be a good benchmark for you.


On a Saturday afternoon, you can comfortably look at three or four potential properties. You can see more if you want to make a full day of it.


One factor that impacts the home shopping process is how clearly you know what you're looking for.


For example, if you're certain you want a three bedroom backsplit, backing onto a wooded area or ravine, in an upscale neighbourhood, then the process is going to be fairly simple. You're just going to view properties that closely meet that criteria.


But if you're the kind of person who simply says, "I'll know it when I see it", then you'll need to look at several homes on the market. That means carving out plenty of room in your schedule for viewings.


A good REALTOR can help you understand what's available on the market and which homes are worth seeing. He or she can also help you determine how long the process will likely take, and show you ways to make the process go more quickly and smoothly.



Looking for a good REALTOR? Call today.



Sale and listing activity continues to follow historical averages


Home buyer and seller activity in the Greater Vancouver housing market continues to far outpace 2012, yet is in line with the region’s 10-year averages.

The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) reports that residential property sales in Greater Vancouver reached 2,483 on the Multiple Listing Service® (MLS®) in September 2013. This represents a 63.8 per cent increase compared to the 1,516 sales recorded in September 2012, and a 1.2 per cent decline compared to the 2,514 sales in August 2013.

Last month’s sales were 1 per cent below the 10-year sales average for the month, while new listings for the month were 3.5 per cent below the 10-year average.

“While sales are up considerably from last year, it’s important to note that September 2012 sales were among the lowest we’ve seen in nearly three decades,” Sandra Wyant, REBGV said. “Home sale and listing activity this September were in line with the 10-year average for the month.”

New listings for detached, attached and apartment properties in Greater Vancouver totalled 5,030 in September. This represents a 5.5 per cent decline compared to the 5,321 new listings reported in September 2012 and a 20.2 per cent increase compared to the 4,186 new listings in August of this year.

The total number of properties currently listed for sale on the MLS® in Greater Vancouver is 16,115, a 12.2 per cent decrease compared to September 2012 and a 0.5 per cent increase compared to August 2013.

The sales-to-active-listings ratio currently sits at 15.4 per cent in Greater Vancouver.

“It’s important to remember that stronger sales activity does not necessarily equate to rising home prices. In fact, home prices have not fluctuated much in our market this year,” Wyant said.

The MLS® Home Price Index composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Greater Vancouver is currently $601,900. This represents a decline of 0.7 per cent compared to this time last year and an increase of 2.3 per cent compared to January 2013.

Sales of detached properties reached 1,023 in September 2013, an increase of 72.2 per cent from the 594 detached sales recorded in September 2012, and a 6.9 per cent increase from the 957 units sold in September 2011. The benchmark price for detached properties decreased 1.4 per cent from September 2012 to $922,600.

Sales of apartment properties reached 1,018 in September 2013, an increase of 50.6 per cent compared to the 676 sales in September 2012, and an increase of 10.4 per cent compared to the 922 sales in September 2011. The benchmark price of an apartment property decreased 0.5 per cent from September 2012 to $366,600

Attached property sales in September 2013 totalled 442, an increase of 79.7 per cent compared to the 246 sales in September 2012, and a 20.4 per cent increase from the 367 attached properties sold in September 2011. The benchmark price of an attached unit is currently $458,300, which is unchanged from September 2012.

Reciprocity Logo The data relating to real estate on this website comes in part from the MLS® Reciprocity program of either the Greater Vancouver REALTORS® (GVR), the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) or the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB). Real estate listings held by participating real estate firms are marked with the MLS® logo and detailed information about the listing includes the name of the listing agent. This representation is based in whole or part on data generated by either the GVR, the FVREB or the CADREB which assumes no responsibility for its accuracy. The materials contained on this page may not be reproduced without the express written consent of either the GVR, the FVREB or the CADREB.