Couple’s house is ‘sinking’
By Vikki Hopes - Abbotsford News
Published: February 12, 2010 2:00 PM
Updated: February 12, 2010 2:52 PM
Angela Bushman places a battery on her kitchen floor, and it rolls with just a small nudge.
She opens the fridge and, without pulling on the handle, the door flings open.
Bedroom doors, wedged open with rocks, shut when the rocks are removed.
This is not the work of a ghostly presence; it’s the result of a home that is “sinking” and needs to have the foundation lifted and stabilized.
The problem is that Bushman and her common-law husband, Phil Gallant, bought the 30-year-old Abbotsford home in August 2007, and a home inspector did not catch the problem.
They are now looking at a bill of $40,000 to $50,000 just to lift the home, not including repairs of any damage that will be caused by performing the work.
“The longer we wait, the more damage that’s going to be done,” Gallant said.
This is the couple’s first home, which they purchased because it had everything they needed. Their son Tyler, 4, was diagnosed with Duchenne muscular dystrophy and will eventually require a wheelchair.
The McKenzie Road home is one level and is wheelchair-accessible. It also has three bedrooms, which enables Gallant’s 12-year-old daughter to stay with them when she’s not with her mom.
Prior to purchasing the home, they hired a home inspection company, which was on a list supplied to them by their realtor. The company was licensed, even though it was not required at the time. (See sidebar about new licensing requirements.)
Gallant, 29, said the only problems the inspector pointed out were minor. He said they were told that small cracks in the walls and foundation were normal settling for a 30-year-old house.
Their purchase price was $303,000.
Over time, the cracks became wider, and the couple noticed the south side of their home was sloping. They called a contractor to find out why.
In their crawlspace, he discovered evidence that someone had tried to previously jack up the house. Shims had been put in place to fill gaps in the foundation.
These issues were in plain view and not something a home inspector should have missed, Gallant said.
The contractor gave them a quote to repair the damage, and the couple called another contractor for a second opinion. He told them the same thing.
They have consulted a lawyer, who told them they have grounds for a lawsuit, but they can’t afford the fees.
“It’s frustrating … We thought we’d get this (house) and it just needed inside work,” said Bushman, 34.
They said they will now most likely sell the home, factoring in the repair costs to the new buyers, and renting a house until they can save enough to buy another one.
“It just roasts me, to put it politely,” Gallant said.