Recovering against the municipality for structural defects.

Date: September 2022

In a lawsuit with respect to damages caused by building structural issues, it is generally a good idea to consider naming all parties involved with the construction to avoid running into limitation issues (to a reasonable extent of course). It is much easier to let a party out of an action once it is clear that the party has no liability instead of dealing with a limitations defence further down the line.

A municipality is one of these parties.

A recent decision from the Court of Appeal upheld a large portion of a trial judge’s decision which imposed liability and damages against a municipality for failing to conduct reasonable inspections of a cottage.

When subsequent owners decided to renovate portions of the cottage over twenty years after its construction, an engineer identified several deficiencies in the cottage’s structure that would cost hundreds-of-thousands of dollars to fix.

In awarding damages against the municipality, the trial judge found, in part, the following:

  • The municipality owed a duty of care to the owners to “not negligently exercise its power to grant a building permit and in the inspection of the construction of the building which is the subject matter of the building permit pursuant to the Act and requisite regulations.”
  • It is reasonable to conclude that the municipality would owe a duty of care to the owners who might be injured by the municipality’s negligent exercise of their authority not only to inspect the progress of the construction but also in the process of granting a building permit

Click here for a link to the decision.

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