Negligent Building Inspection

Posted by Johannes Schenk on December 18th, 2005 — Posted in Municipal Law

Parsons v. Finch and City of Richmond et al., 2005 BCSC 1733, examines the City of Richmond’s duty of care to a home owner in the case of a house that settled on unstable soil after it was built. The house was built on top of an area that had a substantial amount of peat in the subsurface. The subsurface was not adequately prepared and the house suffered severe differential settlement.

The City had a policy that it would use a “professional design” process for building permit applications as opposed to on site inspection process. The city only ensures that all the necessary professional reports, subsoil tests and letters of assurance be submitted in the permit application process in conformity with the Building Code requirements. In other words the City only makes sure that the owner’s experts do their investigations and submit their reports according to the Building Code. The City is not responsible for the actual investigations or design.

The Court held that the City’s “professional design” process was a policy decision and that the City had met all obligations to the plaintiff. The City was found not to be liable.

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