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Displaced from dream home by mould, Calgary couple names City and homebuilder in $2.2M lawsuit
Published Friday, January 12, 2018 10:02PM MST
Daniel Boonstra and Rachel Golsen purchased their duplex in the community of Erlton in 2010 by dipping into their retirement savings but, according to the couple, the building has become uninhabitable and they believe the responsibility falls on several parties including the homebuilder, the architect and the city.
The couple says they bought the home after receiving a new lease on life following Boonstra’s successful fight against testicular cancer.
“We saw this house online and it took our breath away,” recalled Golsen. “It was a beautiful home and it was our dream home for our retirement.”
The homebuyers say they enjoyed life in their home for several years until a heavy rainfall in the summer of 2016 unearthed the first of a number of troubling structural and health concerns.
In July 2016, a leak was discovered following a summer storm. “Water started to drip from the roof above onto the couch and we knew we had a problem,” said Golsen.
As Boonstra and Golsen took steps to address the leak, new issues were spotted and the couple says they ended up spending over $100,000 to repair the decks, walls and flooring of their dream home. As the renovation effort progressed, they learned that mould and wood rot was prevalent throughout the entire envelope of the structure.
The couple discovered insurance would not cover the repairs. “Failed workmanship or poor workmanship isn’t covered,” explained Boonstra. “Doesn’t matter how catastrophic, it is automatically not covered.” The damages were not covered under the home warranty as the couple became aware of the issues after the five-year warranty ended.
“We continued through the remediation work to a point where we realized we financially couldn’t afford to fix it anymore,” said Golsen. “Now we are in a situation that we have to essentially go to court and look for a settlement that way.”
“We had plans, especially considering his (Boonstra’s) health, to try and retire as early as possible and now, in this situation, we’re hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars behind.”
Boonstra says a common refrain from renovators who have visited the home has been if the builder had done things right during construction, the problems would not have occurred.
“It’s really hard from my end to say somebody designed such a beautiful house, built it, but didn’t do it right and didn’t oversee it being finished properly,” said Boonstra.
The couple, along with the owner of the other half of the building, has filed a lawsuit against a number of defendants including the City of Calgary, Ryco Homes Ltd. and Jeremy Sturgess Architect Limited. According to the statement of claim, the plaintiffs are seeking $2.2 million to compensate for losses and damages.
“As the people who hold the checks and balances to make sure builders are doing things the right way, where was the City in this process,” asked Boonstra.
“I would like accountability for the parties involved,” said Golson. “I would like to have closure for my husband and I so that we can actually move on.”
Homebuilder Terry Ryan of Ryan Brothers Custom Homes, former knows as Ryco Homes Ltd., would not comment on the allegations of Golson and Boonstra regarding the home in Erlton but spoke of his track record of satisfied customers.
“I’ve never had a claim against me in 15 years of homebuilding,” Ryan told CTV Calgary.
Officials with the City of Calgary said they would not provide comment as the matter was before the courts.
In its statement of defence, the City of Calgary says an occupancy permit for one half of the duplex was granted on April 25, 2012. The final inspection of the other half of the duplex was conducted on an undisclosed date and inspectors deemed the construction as ‘Not Accepted’, no occupancy permit was granted and the building permit expired.
The document also states the City denies responsibility for ensuring that the plaintiffs’ buildings were denied and constructed to certain or any standards or for ensuring that the plaintiffs’ buildings were designed, developed and constructed without defects.
The City is asking that the plaintiffs’ claim be dismissed with costs.
**Correction: The orginial version of this story indicated the house was inhabitable, instead of uninhabitable, according to the couple**