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Builder Licensing FAQ

Still searching for answers around builder licensing? Let us help you clarify some hot topics.

Anyone who is building a new home in B.C. If you are applying for a building permit as a general contractor, developer or building envelope renovator for new home construction, you must have a residential builder licence. The Homeowner Protection Act defines a licensed residential builder as a person who engages in, arranges for or manages all — or substantially all — of the construction of a new home.

There are exemptions:

  • Acting as a general contractor to build your own home and having an Owner Builder Authorization
  • Being a general contractor who is working for a licensed developer to construct residential buildings under Part 3 of the BC Building Code

There are many steps towards becoming a licensed residential builder. Our How to Become a Licensed Residential Builder page can take you through the process step by step.

No. A condition of licensing includes acceptance by an approved third-party home warranty insurance provider.

You must contact your local municipality or regional district to get a building permit for new home construction or building envelope renovations.

The Financial Institutions Commission (FICom) authorizes warranty providers in B.C.

Only insurance companies approved by the Financial Institutions Commission (FICom) and that meet the requirements of the Homeowner Protection Act can provide home warranty insurance. We maintain a list of those home warranty insurance providers.

The Act also gives BC Housing certain powers to examine the records and procedures of warranty providers.

Mandatory new home warranties must provide coverage as follows:

  • 2 years on labour and material (some limits apply)
  • 5 years on the building envelope, including water penetration
  • 10 years on the structure of the home

The third-party companies providing the coverage set the cost of the warranties. The price is based on an actuarial analysis of expected claims. Having warranty insurance providers compete for business should benefit both consumers and builders.

If you want a building permit to construct a new home in B.C., the Homeowner Protection Act and regulations require that you must have a residential builder licence and provide home warranty insurance. This requirement also applies to those areas of the province where no building permit is required. You must have this licensing and warranty, or an applicable exemption, before starting construction.

BC Housing is responsible for enforcement in B.C. The Act provides for fines of up to $25,000 for individuals and $100,000 for corporations, and/or imprisonment of up to one year for anyone convicted of construction offences.

Yes. Owner builders are exempt from licensing and warranty regulations. However, they still need to get an Owner Builder Authorization from BC Housing prior to starting construction.

The regulations for building envelope renovations do not apply to these categories:

  • Buildings with only one or two self-contained dwelling units
  • Buildings covered with Homeowner Protection Act legislated warranty insurance
  • Buildings when the dollar threshold (greater than or equal to $10,000 or $2,000 per unit in the building) and/or when the percentage of cladding surface renovated threshold (60 per cent or more of any cladding surface) is not met
  • Care facilities
  • Dormitories
  • Floating homes
  • Hotels and motels
  • Multi-unit rental buildings
  • Multi-unit buildings in which first occupancy occurred 25 or more years before the building envelope renovation started or — if applicable — the issuance of a building permit for the renovation, whichever is earlier
  • Repairs carried out by the original builder at no cost to the owner(s) or when there is a cost-sharing agreement between the original builder and the owner(s)
  • Social housing

The regulations for home warranty insurance do not apply to these categories:

  • Care facilities
  • Dormitories
  • Floating Homes
  • Hotels and motels