TORONTO, June 6, 2013 /CNW/ - When it comes to that new dream home, love
can be blind. Buyers are often willing to spend tens of thousands of
dollars on luxury upgrades such as tile floors and marble countertops,
while ignoring the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC)
systems that make the house comfortable.
And this limited view can, in a worst case, turn your dream into a
"A home is usually the largest investment in a person's life. Yet most
buyers don't even think about the HVAC system. They just assume that
things will work properly. Sadly, some find out that's not always so,"
says Warren Heeley, President of the Heating, Refrigeration and Air
Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI).
"If you're concerned only about what the house looks like, you've
probably lost sight of the fundamentals. You need to check out the
mechanical systems as well, or you could end up owning a gorgeous home
that is unpleasant to live in," warns Karen Somerville, President of
Canadians for Properly Built Homes (CPBH).
Industry and consumer groups join forces
HRAI and a small group of allied heating industry associations have
joined forces with the consumer protection group CPBH to raise public
awareness about the problems - and solutions - related to poorly
performing HVAC systems in newly built homes. (Click here to read the industry associations' joint statement.)
According to CPBH, heating and cooling troubles are among the most
commonly cited problems in newly built homes, and can include: extreme
temperatures (house is too hot or too cold), significant temperature
variances (in different parts of the house), stale/stuffy air, poor
ventilation, extreme humidity or dryness, and health issues related to
indoor air quality.
The building code does NOT ensure home comfort
Newly built homes are supposed to meet the building code, and purchasers
therefore assume that their HVAC will deliver the proper level of home
comfort. Wrong on two counts.
First, the building code sets minimum standards to ensure safety, but
there is nothing requiring a minimum level of comfort. HRAI, CPBH and
other organizations are lobbying government for improvements in the
building code that would raise HVAC standards, but this is a long
Secondly, measures to ensure comfort in the home will only be achieved
if home buyers protect themselves and place specific demands on
So what can new home buyers do to ensure that these systems have been
properly designed, installed and commissioned?
Here are some steps you can take to protect yourself
Have your lawyer include a clause in the purchase agreement indicating
that you want the right to have the HVAC inspected (and tested if
necessary) by your own independent HVAC expert, before the drywall is
put up, and if you are not satisfied with the HVAC system, you can get
out of the deal. If the builder will not include such a clause in the
agreement, think twice about proceeding.
When thinking about upgrades, remember to invest in home comfort and
efficiency. These might include:
- a higher efficiency furnace fan motor (know as an "ECM" or
electronically commutated motor)
- sealing the air ducts (leaky ducts are a major factor in home comfort
- having an air balancing test conducted (this will tell you if the air
flow in the home is adequate)
- an air cleaner
- a humidifier
The above should cost no more than $3,000 and will pay back the
investment in a few short years.
Before taking legal possession of the home, ask the homebuilder for
copies of the following: the report of the municipal building
inspector, confirmation that the air ducts have been sealed, the air
balancing report, and a report called the "heat loss/gain calculation"
which is used in determining the proper size of the furnace for the
home. Have your independent expert review these reports with you.
The Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada
(HRAI) is the national trade association for manufacturers, wholesalers
and contractors in the Canadian heating, ventilation, air conditioning
and refrigeration industry. HRAI-member companies provide products and
services for indoor comfort and essential refrigeration processes.
HRAI has over 1,350 company members, including over 1,000 contractors,
across Canada. Go to www.hrai.ca for further information.
Canadians for Properly Built Homes (CPBH) is a national, not for profit
corporation dedicated to healthy, safe, durable, energy efficient
residential housing for Canadians, and is the only organization of its
kind in Canada. Working for consumer awareness and protection, CPBH is
run by a volunteer Board of Directors and is supported by a volunteer
Advisory Council of industry experts and other key stakeholders. CPBH
earned "partner" status with the Canadian Consumer Information Gateway
(Industry Canada). Go to www.canadiansforproperlybuilthomes.com to learn more.
Image with caption: "The Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) (CNW Group/The Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI))". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20130606_C5862_PHOTO_EN_27626.jpg
SOURCE: The Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI)
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