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Inspection delays leave homebuilders in limbo

Frustration and financial strain on homeowners
A backlog between a successful building inspection and the occupancy issuance of a certificate has left Sooke homeowners waiting for up to three months, say some residents. (File - Sooke News Mirror)

Sooke residents are grappling with an additional hurdle that has turned their dreams of building a new home into a frustrating obstacle.

The predicament, sparked by a housing market marked by skyrocketing demand and dwindling inventory, arises from a backlog between a successful building inspection and the issuance of an occupancy certificate, leaving homeowners waiting for up to three months, according to residents and builders.

Recent weeks have seen the situation worsen due to a shortage of inspectors, exacerbating the problem

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“Unfortunately, we’ve experienced ongoing challenges with staff recruitment and recent impacts due to staff illness resulting in medical leave,” said district spokesperson Christina Moog.

The district estimates that, based on historical demand, three inspectors are necessary to meet the service needs in Sooke. The district currently has one part-time inspector, who works two days a week.

The shortage of inspectors has led to frustrated homeowners bearing the brunt of the bureaucratic bottleneck

“Our new home was supposed to be completed and occupied by year-end,” expressed a homeowner who chose to remain anonymous. “Now, we have no clue when, or if, that will happen.”

The housing shortage has sparked concerns among builders who feel that local authorities should prioritize expediting new builds.

“Getting a building permit is very frustrating right now to our members. It’s taking a lot longer to do so,” said Jeff Steel, president of the Sooke Builders Association, adding its stalling projects and future development.

Sooke officials are grappling with staffing issues due to unforeseen absences among inspectors. To address this, the district is seeking more contracted service providers and initiating recruitment drives to hire new personnel, said councillor Al Beddows.

“It’s frustrating for us too. We’re not the only municipality crying out for building inspectors,” Beddows said.

Under normal circumstances, three inspectors oversee the occupancy certification process in Sooke. However, recent unexpected absences have disrupted this workflow, exacerbating the existing backlog of pending inspections. Moog emphasized the district’s recommendation for applicants to ensure timely submission of all required documentation to expedite the process.

Currently, approximately 345 inspections await completion due to the backlog. The number of inspections handled daily by inspectors ranges from three to 15, depending on the assessment’s complexity and location.

“Resolving the issue requires compassion and understanding on one side and systems, including technology, to increase transparency and accountability on the other. With system enhancements and better use of technology, procedural changes are anticipated to considerably streamline the process,” Moog said.

Kevin Laird

About the Author: Kevin Laird

It's my passion to contribute to the well-being of the community by connecting people through the power of reliable news and storytelling.
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