In February 2014 we moved into our brand new home which we just built. By November of that year we began getting sick with breathing issues, joint pain, itchiness and rashes. Amber was continually ill requiring frequent medical visits, with her weight dropping below 100lbs. Our son had to miss weeks of pre-school as he was continually ill. He complained on many days that his knees were too sore to run and play and had difficulties getting up off the floor.
In November 2015 our daughter was born and for the first six months of her life she was ill to the point of hospitalization. We had to stay awake at night to hold her upright, to help her breathe easier. Other nights we would set an alarm every hour to check her breathing and color as she would turn blue around the mouth. For weeks at a time we had to constantly hold her throughout the day as when we laid her down she would choke on her own mucous. Many nights we would have to change the sheets multiple times as they were wet with mucous and vomit. She even stopped breathing in the home without any identified cause. Doctors were unable to determine why she was so sick, as the medical tests came back without indicating a cause for her symptoms. She had eczema and rashing all over her body that was also unexplained.
We moved out the first time and stayed with family, and immediately regained our health. Suspecting something might be wrong in our home we had an expert come in and do air sampling. They found mould in the air in concerning levels, far above what is considered safe by Alberta Health. They also found surface mould along the upper perimeter of the basement. We moved out for several months again to remediate the mould, and make expensive repairs to the HVAC system in the home (which was suspected to be contributing to the problem). Once repair work was completed we moved back into our home and within two weeks we began getting sick again. In March 2017, we moved out yet again and have since discovered more repair work that needs to happen in our home.
These include that our outdoor intake and exhaust vents are too low to the ground to meet code, the basement wall is missing insulation, and the vapor barrier isn’t sealed properly in various locations of the house just to mention a few of the noted issues with the home. We have also had to replace the solenoid coil in our humidifier and replace the sump pump.
To make matters worse, within weeks of moving into our first rental there was a multilevel leak from a worn out dishwasher valve that flooded a large portion of the main floor. The damage meant they needed to tear up most of the hardwood on the main floor and replace sections of the kitchen. As the work was going to take months and the condo would not be livable during the repairs we once again had to pack our things and leave. We were restricted in where we could move to by a heavily restricted budget (due to house repairs and the need to pay mortgage and rent) and wanting our son to finish school in the same school. We ended up in a small month to month 3 bedroom apartment which is continually filled with cigarette smoke if we leave the windows open. We couldn’t fit our furniture into the apartment so we’ve found ourselves sleeping on inflatable mattresses while our furniture sits in our beautiful 3 year old home that we’re using as an overpriced storage locker.
Because our daughter was so sick for so long Amber was unable to return to work when she was expected back from maternity leave. As a result she’s had her employment terminated.
We still don’t know why we can’t live in our 3 year old home. It has been recommended we do invasive examination of wall cavities and a complete investigation of all duct work for residual mold. We have contacted the builder, New Home Warranty, public health, Ombudsman, our home insurance, City of Edmonton, Municipal affairs, MLA constituency office, Service Alberta, Alberta works, and Canadian Home builders association, all of whom have been unable to assist us with the costs. We’re stuck paying rent as well as mortgage which has left us being unable to meet our basic living requirements such as groceries, without help from family and friends.
Our kids have been through so much already. Our daughter was robbed of health, having to fight to breathe for the first few months of her life. Our son had major changes to adjust to and although he handled it all remarkably well it still has had its effects on him. His sister required a lot of attention due to her health issues and he had to adjust to the huge change of not only sharing his parents but to moving several times over a couple of years to allow for repairs on the home. He has been overhead at the park talking about not wanting to move so much and making comments like “it would be nice to have a house with all of our things.” His teacher even asked us if anything was happening at home as she noticed a significant change in his behaviour as he became more aloof and distracted in class.
With a few wonderful exceptions this has been the toughest several years of any of our lives. Although we are enjoying health again and even doing regular activities such as spending the day at the park, we are experiencing other struggles and are concerned for our children’s well-being. Would you please consider donating so our family may have a chance at health and stability?
Our goal is to raise $10 000 to go towards further investigations such as testing for VOCs and formaldehyde, as well as invasive examination of wall cavities and duct work. This amount will also help us meet the monthly rent requirement while we are still having to pay our mortgage as well. If you would consider donating even as little as $10 to our cause it would help us immensely in getting our family a normal life back again.
- Kate Plyley
- Joey Bacac
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