Virtually every residential real estate sale agreement in Ontario contains a clause concerning urea formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI). Typically, the clause is a warranty that the seller has never caused the house or condominium unit to be insulated with UFFI and that to the best of the seller’s knowledge the property does not contain UFFI.
What is UFFI?
Urea formaldehyde foam insulation (UFFI) is a thermal insulation product used mostly during the 1970s and early 1980s. This expanding foam insulation was mixed on site and pumped into building cavities in older buildings that had not been previously insulated.
The problem is that the use of UFFI has been illegal in Canada since it was banned in December 1980 under the Hazardous Products Act. … Urea formaldehyde insulation is prohibited in Canada because it may release formaldehyde gas into indoor air.
UFFI is one of the
most thoroughly investigated and most innocuous building products we have used.
After the longest and most expensive civil case ever held in Canada (eight
years) was concluded in the Quebec Superior Court, not only was no basis for a
settlement found, but the plaintiffs were obliged to pay most of the costs.
The conclusion to be drawn from all this is that urea formaldehyde foam insulation has not been shown to be a health concern.
“We believe that those who have urea formaldehyde foam insulation in their homes should enjoy their houses, and sleep well at night. It is the sincere hope of the authors that the market place will respond appropriately. The owners of properties with this type of insulation should not be penalized financially, and no stigma should be attached to these homes. We would further urge real estate associations and boards across Canada to consider dropping the UFFI clause from purchase contracts. Similarly, we would ask mortgage lenders not to penalize those who have UFFI in their homes. UFFI is simply not the problem it was once feared to be.” – Alan Carson Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd. and John Caverly, Building Inspection Consultants & Associates.
You might have read that there is no definitive science to indicate that UFFI is harmful, so you may be wondering why there is any concern with a harmless building material that hasn’t been used in Canada since the 1970s.
The fact is that some people are sensitive to the issue of UFFI and would not knowingly buy a house that contains it, just like some people won’t buy a house with a certain address number. It is really a matter of disclosure. Think of UFFI as being the equivalent of a latent defect.
For more information: