Suit Launched over RTM Homes

January 9, 2015 10:16 pm Published by

Wednesday, August 17, 2011
By Cassandra Kyle, The StarPhoenix

Buying a new home comes with its challenges, but Marilee Zaharia says it’s been “hell.”

That’s why the Bradwell woman is lead plaintiff in a national class-action claim against the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and the Standards Council of Canada (SCC). After buying a ready-to­ move (RTM) home in 2008, Zaharia says she’s still not fully moved in and has had to pay to bring the house up to code. She claims the CSA wrongfully approved the American made product as safe and ready for sale.

The claim, which has not been proven in court, is seeking $8 billion in damages for tens of thousands of RTM home and hotel purchasers and RTM home dealers who cannot sell their stock as the homes are “uncertified” and “valueless.”

The SCC accredits the CSA and oversees its work. Both organizations say they have not received any formal notification of the claim and deny any wrongdoing.

“The stress on my husband and I …has just been beyond belief. We decided to pursue this as a legal matter just so that if one (more) family doesn’t have to go through what we’ve had to go through, it’s worth it,” Zaharia said.

After purchasing the RTM from Saskatoon’s MidCanada Modular Homes in July 2008, Zaharia says a series of setbacks and safety issues has prevented her and her husband from living comfortably in their otherwise “beautiful” home near Bradwell. Several irregularities with the house, which was manufactured by Colorado-based Champion Home Builders Co., came to light after MidCanada’s owner inspected a similar home headed to Asquith and informed Zaharia of his concerns with the building.

It was discovered the house had serious vapour barrier problems which can lead to mould growth – as well as issues with trusses, joints and the electrical system.

Following months of communication, Zaharia said the CSA and the manufacturer visited the property in July 2009, stripping the house to its skeleton and rebuilding the structure. Zaharia said during that time, the CSA removed its safety approval sticker from the house without her permission.

Zaharia said the CSA approval is why she purchased the RTM home in the first place.

She said she decided to take legal action after feeling “pushed into a corner” about the situation.

Zaharia and her husband say they’re concerned about people who have purchased the homes, but may not be aware of any problems or can’t afford to fix their own RTM house.

“These houses are sent up to rural communities, they’re sent up to the aboriginal communities because they can’t get construction people in there, they’re sent to families who may not be able to afford a builder to come to their place.”

Regina-based lawyer Tony Merchant, whose firm has taken on the class-action claim, said the claim against the safety bodies alleges the CSA failed in its duty to properly inspect the RTM homes and did not have the authority to do so. According to the claim, the sec did not accredit the CSA to legally certify RTM homes until September 2010, however the CSA was inspecting the products between 2002 and September of last year.

Pilar Castro, spokesperson for the SCC, said it’s taking the allegations seriously. However, she added, the organization needs to receive the formal legal documents before responding to the claim.

The CSA has been certifying manufactured modular buildings in accordance with industry standards since 1972, said Anthony Toderian, spokesperson for the CSA. He said the association stands by the validity of its testing certification process and its factory inspection process.

Toderian could not speak to the allegations in the claim as, like the SCC, the CSA also has not received formal documents.

ckyle@thestarphoenix.com

 

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