When you move into a new home you should test for radon. If you find that radon is a problem, you may have legal avenues of redress from your New Home Warranty provider, or the architects, engineers and builders who built the home.
New Home Warranty is an insurance policy that covers homes constructed since July 1, 1999 by residential builders who are licensed with BC Housing.
There should be no serious disagreement that if the Building Code is not followed, this will count as a defect. The BC Building Code now has radon provisions for many municipalities. Further, in our view, it is only a matter of time until homeowners make successful claims under the New Home Warranty for high radon.
Courts would most likely find high radon to be a defect in materials or structure for a number of reasons including:
The National Radon Guideline provides a clear standard for health in a home
High radon is considered to be a latent defect by the BC Financial Services Authority, which now regulates BC real estate agents. This means if a seller or their real estate agent know radon is a problem in a home, they need to tell buyers.
What counts as a defect for a real estate transaction should also count as a defect under BC’s Homeowner Protection Act.
In Ontario, Tarion (the province’s only home warranty insurance provider) agrees that high radon is a defect.
As a homeowner, if you find that there is a problem with high radon in your home you should follow the normal procedure for new home warranty concerns.
If the New Home Warranty does not cover your home, you can try to resolve the matter through using the online Civil Resolution Tribunal, which covers small claims up to $5,000.
If these avenues do not work you may have the option to sue your builder or contractor in negligence law, although this will be a more complicated claim and it is advised to consult with a lawyer before proceeding.
Click here to read our summer for purchasers of new homes.
Click here to read a more detailed report entitled Radon: Liabilities in Construction Law which includes further information, resources, and legal analysis.