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District of North Vancouver sued for shoddy home's approval

The owners say the district knew or should have known the house was poorly built when they granted permits.
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The District of North Vancouver is facing a lawsuit from homeowners alleging the district granted occupancy permits for a faulty home. | Cindy Goodman / North Shore News files

The District of North Vancouver is being sued by a pair of homeowners alleging district inspectors signed off on shoddy construction and engineering.

In a civil claim filed in B.C. Supreme Court, Petra Andrea Smyczek and Saeid Behmanesh say they paid just over $4 million for their Madeira Court home in August 2021. When they moved in, however, they noticed loose railings and drywall cracks, prompting them to hire a structural engineer.

The suit lays out 19 different deficiencies and defects they say should have been caught by the district’s inspector before granting an occupancy permit when the house was completed in 2019.

Among them, according to the suit: improperly constructed walls, floors, and ceilings that are not square and/or level, excessive loading of beams, improperly designed and/or constructed building envelope vapour barriers and pipes, wet walls and moisture throughout the house, non-functional in-floor heating, downspouts not properly draining, double-tapped circuit breakers, floor framing not fastened to the concrete foundation and failure of the retaining walls in the property’s rear yard.

“The engineer identified numerous defects and deficiencies in the house’s design, materials and workmanship, all of which are attributable in whole or in part to the district’s negligent inspection of and approval of the design, construction, and occupancy of the house,” the claim states.

The homeowners say they’ve had to deal with cracked drywall, water ingress around the house, mould, pests, erosion, and soil and wood falling into the neighbour’s yard.

The defects and damage pose dangers to health and safety, the suit continues, including slope instability, compromised structural integrity of the house, respiratory issues stemming from mould and infestation as well as fire risks from the home’s electrical wiring.

District staff knew or ought to have known the building’s overall design was completed by a home designer rather than an architect, which the law requires for homes of that size, and none of the issues were caught by the district’s inspectors during their numerous visits over the course of the construction, they allege.

“It issued the building permit and the occupancy permit when it knew or ought to have known of the defects,” the court documents state. “If an architect had been involved with the project, it is probable that the defects, resulting damage and dangers would not have occurred or, alternatively, would have been less grave than they are.”

Because of its role as a regulator, the district owed Smyczek and Behmanesh a common law duty of care to be aware of the issues and see that they were corrected before granting an occupancy permit, the claim states.

Smyczek and Behmanesh say they’ve endured the costs of investigating and remediating the damages, increased maintenance costs, property damage, loss of use and enjoyment of their home, as well as emotional and psychological stress.

Smyczek and Behmanesh are asking the courts to award them general and special damages as well as interest.

None of the allegations have been proven or heard in court, and the District of North Vancouver has not yet field a response to the claims.

District of North Vancouver staff declined to comment.

brichter@nsnews.com
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