Help Us Make Our Home Safe

Meet our young family:  my husband, Ben, a service advisor for car repairs.  I'm Natalie and have been building a small business offering gift baskets.  While I'm doing well, building a successful business takes time.  We have two wonderful children, Chloë who is 6 and Gabriel who will soon be 3 years old.

In the summer of 2012, we bought our first home.  It was a 100-year old recently renovated home that met our desire for character and did not require any immediate renovations. The excitement and joy of our new house did not last long and our exciting new adventure quickly turned into a nightmare.

Within just 6 months of living there we had our first major disaster - the water pipe in the kitchen burst causing significant damage to the walls, floors and base cabinets. We ended up having to gut and replace the whole bottom half of our kitchen.

A year later the roof started leaking on one of the additions of the house, causing more water damage. This time we needed to replace the rotted wood in the roof, insulation and drywall.

In the years following we experienced 6 additional pipe bursts causing more water damage; and a feral cat and raccoon infestation. The house was barely livable in the winter, despite paying $800 a month in heating to keep the house at 18C.

Every time we fixed one problem, a new one would arise so in the hopes of trying to get ahead of the mounting issues, we decided to gut out the portion of the house where all the problems where happening year over year: the kitchen, the main floor bathroom, the dining room and the laundry room. Once the walls and floors where off, it was clear to see that professionals would be needed to correct the poor/dangerous workmanship done before the house was ours.

The scope of the issues are as follows:
- The structural frame work of the house was severely insufficient and lacking, the engineer describes the house as on the verge of collapsing in his report.
- The foundation was deteriorating, so we needed to rip up the floors (we have a crawl space foundation) to create a sound foundation.
- The electrical wiring was very illegal and a fire hazard, so all of the electrical wiring needed to be redone starting at the breaker box.
- Some of the exterior walls had no insulation at all.
- The plumbing was as my contractor put it "complete nonsense and backwards." The entire plumbing of the house had to be redone from the city line on.
- There are parts of the exterior walls of the house that where rotten and had holes.

The house has been unliveable since 2016 forcing us to move in with one set of parents and then the other when neither side has room for an additional family of four.   So far we've spent $35 000 fixing the house and the recent issues listed above are going to cost an additional $70 000 and this is not including regular maintenance work that will still be required, e.g. the roof, windows and insulation in the rest of the house. 

You might be wondering at this point how on earth did the home inspector not see all these issues? Unfortunatly, home inspections cannot uncover what is hidden in the walls and floors. Even our contractor couldn't see the true scope of all the issues until the house was striped to the studs and dirt of the crawl space.

You might also be wondering if it is possible to sue the former owners of the house. It is, but going through the legal process is very costly and time consuming and has no guarantee of a return. It is not something that we have completly rulled and we are seeking some expert advise on the subject.

We've borrowed money from family and as much as the bank is willing to lend us so that we could to pay for the current repairs, but we are now maxed out and need help covering the massive cost to bring the house to a safe and livable state. Anything you could do to help would mean the world to us!

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Natalie Conn
Gatineau, QC

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