Tag Archives: home inspections

Crucial inspections coverage

“Whether you’re thinking of buying or selling, a home transaction can be an extremely stressful process,” said Jackie Chetcuti, head of Home Protection Solutions at FCT. “Buyers often fear that they may have to incur significant expenses soon after acquiring a home, and sellers may be hesitant to get an inspection at the risk of significant repair costs prior to listing their property.

“These products seek to reduce this anxiety by assessing over 400 features around the house through an

independent home inspection, and provide warranty coverage on a property’s larger, stress-inducing blind spots that are often expensive to fix.”

FCT is offering one product for buyers and another for sellers that offer comprehensive third-party home inspections with warranties that are transferable, and that cover up to $20,000.

Home purchases are usually characterized as the most expensive purchases of people’s lives, and with good reason. However, that could become compounded by something a home inspector might miss.

 

“When you go in as a buyer, you get a home inspector, but there’s not such a paradigm shift with a product like that because people are doing home inspections on the buy side,” said Chetcuti. “You get a full home inspection with over 400 points of data on the home, and that comes with a 21-month warranty.”

Real estate sales representatives, in particular, can save themselves headaches will unhappy clients by informing them about their different options, particularly if they’re millennials, she added.

“For a real estate agent, it’s important that people let their clients know that this is an option available in the market. It also provides more transparency around what people are buying,” said Chetcuti. “There’s a demand for information with millennials. A lot of the time, for a realtor with millennial clients, they’ll show up already knowing more about the house before you even take them through it. It puts the information out there before someone gets attached to a home and then finds something out about it.”

Source: Canadian Real Estate Wealth – by Neil Sharma 04 Jul 2018

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The Role of Appraisals How do the three main types of building appraisal work?

Whether it’s a retail strip plaza, a mall, an agricultural compound, a single family home, or an industrial building of 5,000 or one million square-feet, getting an appraisal is an important first step in any property acquisition process. In order to learn how to weight the importance of different factors when forming their opinion on value, registered appraisers go through a stringent examination process.

When determining the value of a property or building, there are several methodologies that qualified appraisers have to choose from, which are driven by the scope of the assignment and the property type.  The first is the ‘Direct Comparison Approach’; a methodology whereby the appraiser develops an opinion of value by analyzing completed sales, listings or pending sales of properties that are similar to the subject property. “Estimates of market rent, expenses, land value, cost, depreciation and other value parameters may be derived using a comparative technique,” explains Dan Brewer, President of the Appraisal Institute of Canada (AIC) and licensed mortgage and real estate broker.

Another methodology commonly adopted by appraisers is the ‘Cost Approach’, which considers the land and building components separately, and reaches a value conclusion by adding these estimates together to form an opinion. “Like the Direct Comparison Approach, the Cost Approach is based on a comparison of the cost to replace the subject (cost new) or the cost to reproduce the subject (substitute property),” Brewer says. “The total cost estimate is adjusted by deducting the accrued depreciation (i.e., physical wear and tear, functional deficiencies and external influences) of the dwelling and the site improvements (e.g., garage, deck, pool, etc.). The Cost Approach is most reliable when a property is newer due to the lower depreciation, although it’s generally not a weighted approach.”

The third methodology is the ‘Income Approach’, which is used to determine the valuations of income-producing properties. “Typically purchased as investments, the earning potential is an important element affecting the value of these properties,” says Brewer. “Through the Income Approach, the appraiser analyzes a property’s annual income and expenses to convert the net income into a present value. This methodology is typically not applied when valuing a residential property.”

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When Is Daylight SavingTime 2015?

alarm clock

So, when is Daylight Saving Time for 2015 (often called Daylight Savings Time) in the USA? On Sunday, November 1, 2015 at 2:00 a.m., set your clocks back one hour … or you could just turn your clocks back before you go to sleep in order to save yourself the hassle. Don’t worry about your cell phones because they reset themselves. If you’re out still partying for Halloween, many bars and restaurants are staying open that extra hour, which means another hour of fun, but you’ll have to check with your local establishments.

Sunrise will now be an hour earlier and Patch.com reports sunset will be at 4:53 p.m. now.

There are several states and areas that do not follow Daylight Saving Time and those include Arizona, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the US Virgin Islands. The state of Arizona (except for the Navajo Nation in the northern part of Arizona), unlike most of the rest of the United States, doesn’t observe Daylight Savings Time, and hasn’t for about 40 years.

So, where does Daylight Saving Time originate from? CNN reported:

The U.S. government started moving into and out of “Daylight Saving Time” during World War I to copy the Germans, who said they were doing it to save fuel. When the war ended, the U.S. government wisely repealed the law since it proved unpopular. During WWII, it came back — again with the notion that it would somehow conserve resources. After the second war, the U.S. converted factories from making bombs to making cars and consumer products. The GIs came home. But Daylight Saving Time just stuck around.

Even so, there are reports that versions of Daylight Saving Time started back in the 1800s:

New Zealander George Vernon Hudson proposed the modern idea of daylight saving in 1895. Germany and Austria-Hungary organized the first implementation, starting on 30 April 1916. Many countries have used it at various times since then, particularly since the energy crisis of the 1970s.

If you go to bed before 2:00 a.m., don’t forget to fix your clocks to avoid confusion when you wake.

Source: Published 9:46 pm EDT, October 30, 2015

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Mike Holmes: Get ahead of the season by thoroughly checking attic and roof before winter arrives

Ice damming on the roof can cause expensive damage inside the home, including water damage to ceilings, walls and even mould.

I recently got an email from a homeowner complaining about ice damming on their roof last winter. It was so bad it caused major damage to their ceiling — they even had to replace walls.

It’s a good time to review ice damming because if you can fix the problem now, before winter moves in, you could save yourself a ton of money and grief.

Most people tend to think that ice damming means there’s a problem with their gutters. Nine times out of 10, ice damming is not an eavestrough issue, it’s an attic issue.

If your eavestroughs are clogged with debris and leaves, water won’t drain properly. And once temperatures drop below freezing, all that trapped water and debris will turn into a frozen channel of muck. Next thing you know, you have ice damming all along your roofline, which can lead to water backing up underneath your shingles and getting into the roof structure, possibly causing water damage to the roof deck.

Then soon you’ll be looking at things like rot and mould.

That’s why fall maintenance must include clearing your eavestroughs of any debris now — because no one knows when temperatures will drop or how quickly.

But the real source of ice damming is usually heat loss in the attic.

Ice damming occurs when there is a constant cycle of snow melting and freezing. But snow shouldn’t melt when the temperature outside is below freezing, right? So what’s going on?

The snow on the roof is melting because heat is escaping through the attic, and as the water drains down the roof to the roofline, it refreezes because the overhang is colder.

Heat shouldn’t escape from your attic; it’s supposed to be a cold zone, the same temperature as outside.

To keep the attic a cold zone, it should be properly sealed off from the rest of the home with vapour barrier and a minimum of 12 to 15 inches of blown-in insulation. (Vapour barrier helps stop drafts and moisture from getting into places it shouldn’t.) It’s also important to make sure your vapour barrier is properly sealed with Tuck tape.

If any part of this system doesn’t work the way it should, problems such as heat loss, ice damming and even mould will occur.

Then make sure there’s enough ventilation, with fresh air coming in through the soffits and going out through the venting on the roof.

If any part of this system doesn’t work the way it should — for example, if the soffits are blocked by insulation, the vapour barrier isn’t properly Tuck taped or the venting on the roof is covered by snow — problems such as heat loss, ice damming and even mould will occur.

One homeowner tried to solve his ice damming issues by replacing the soffits. That didn’t work, so he asked if spray foaming the underside of his roof could help.

If you’re going to spray-foam your attic — and I love closed-cell spray foam — it should be applied to the bottom area of your attic space (or your ceiling, behind the drywall, if it’s a finished space) to properly seal off the environment below. And the great thing about closed cell spray foam is that it’s also a vapour barrier, so you get two in one.

Now is the best time to get a professional to come to your home to look at your attic and make sure it’s doing its job. I’d even recommend getting a maintenance inspection, because if you need any repairs before winter, especially to your home’s building envelope, you still have time to get the job done right.

Stay ahead of the game and make sure your home is ready for another round of winter weather. You’ll thank yourself later.

Watch Mike in his new series, Holmes Makes It Right, on HGTV. For more information, visit makeitright.ca

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Your Home’s Fall Checklist – It’s time to prepare your home to withstand winter’s frosty bite.

Fall is the perfect time to take care of the little things that can make a big difference for you and your home. Most of the tasks listed below are well with-in the average person’s ability. But even if you choose to have a professional handle them, it’s worth the expense. You’ll save money — and maybe even your life.

Here’s the checklist at a glance. See the following pages for more detailed guidance.

  • Get your mind in the gutters. Inspect and clean gutters and downspouts.
  • Button up your overcoat. Seal gaps and cracks around windows and doors with weather-stripping and caulk.
  • Get on top of roof problems. Inspect your roof for damaged or curled shingles, corroded flashing, or leaky vents.
  • Walks the walks (and drives). Take steps to repair damaged sidewalks, driveways, and steps.
  • Chill out. Drain and winterize outdoor faucets and irrigation systems.
  • Freshen your filter. Clean or replace dirty furnace filters.
  • Give your furnace a physical. Have a professional inspect your heating system.
  • Gather round the hearth. Check fireplaces for soot or creosote build-up. Better yet, schedule a visit from a reputable chimney sweep.
  • Keep the humidifier humming. Clean the plates or pads to ensure efficient operation.
  • Head-off gas problems. If you have a gas-fired room heater, have it inspected by a pro. Also, perform any routine maintenance recommended by the maker.
  • Keep the wood fires burning brightly. Wood stoves are making a comeback. To avoid a deadly situation, be sure to inspect yours before firing it up.
  • Keep your family safe at home. A home safety check should be an annual ritual in every household. Test smoke and CO monitors, inspect (or install) fire extinguishers, review fire escape plans, and rid your home of old newspapers and other fire hazards.
 

Get your mind in the gutters. Your roof’s drainage system annually diverts thousands of gallons of water from your house’s exterior and foundation walls. That’s why it is so important to keep this system flowing smoothly. Clogged gutters can lead to damaged exterior surfaces and to water in your basement. They are also more prone to rust and corrosion. Before the leaves fly this fall, have your gutters cleaned, then covered with mesh guards to keep debris from returning.

Button up your overcoat. A home with air leaks around windows and doors is like a coat left unbuttoned. Gaps in caulk and weather-stripping can account for a 10% of your heating bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Weather-stripping is easily the most cost-effective way to rein in heating and cooling costs. This humble material also reduces drafts and keeps your home more comfortable year-round. Because weather stripping can deteriorate over time, it is important to inspect it periodically.

If you suspect a problem with weather stripping, you have several options for checking. Close a door or window on a strip of paper; if the paper slides easily, your weatherstripping isn’t doing its job. Or, close the door or window and hold a lighted candle near the frame. (Don’t let the flame get near anything flammable!) If the flame flickers at any spot along the frame, you have an air leak.

While you’re at it, also check for missing or damaged caulk around windows, doors, and entry points for electrical, cable, phone, gas, and so. Seal any gaps with a suitable caulk.

Easy instructions for weatherizing your home

Get on top of roof problems. Few homeowner problems are more vexing than a leaky roof. Once the dripping starts, finding the source of the problem can be time-consuming. Stop problems this fall before ice and winter winds turn them from annoyances into disasters.

Here’s how: Inspect your roof from top to bottom, using binoculars if necessary. Check ridge shingles for cracks and wind damage. Look for damage to metal flashing in valleys and around vents and chimneys. Scan the entire roof for missing, curled, or damaged shingles. Look in your gutters for large accumulations of granules, a sign that your roof is losing its coating; expect problems soon. Finally, make sure your gutters are flowing freely.

Note: Roof-mounted television antennas, even if they aren’t in use, may have guy wires holding them in place. Look for loose or missing guy wires. If you see some, and your antenna is no longer being used, consider having it removed altogether.

Walk the walks (and drives). Damaged walkways, drives, and steps are a hazard year round, but their dangers are compounded when the weather turns icy. Fixing problems in the fall is also critical to preventing little problems from becoming expensive headaches.

Look for cracks more than 1/8-inch wide, uneven sections, and loose railings on steps. Check for disintegration of asphalt, or washed-out materials on loose-fill paths.

Most small jobs are well within the ability of a do-it-yourselver, but save major repairs for experienced hands.

Chill out. If you live in an area with freezing weather, take steps to ensure that outside faucets (also called sill cocks) and inground irrigation systems don’t freeze and burst.

Here’s how: Close any shut-off valves serving outside faucets, then open the outside faucet to drain the line. (There may be a small cap on the faucet you can loosen to facilitate this draining.) If you don’t have shut-off valves, and your faucets are not “freezeproof ” types, you may benefit from styrofoam faucet covers sold at home centers.

To freezeproof an inground irrigation system, follow the manufacturer’s procedure for draining it and protecting it from winter damage.

Freshen your filter. Furnace filters trap dust that would otherwise be deposited on your furniture, woodwork, and so on. Clogged filters make it harded to keep your home at a comfortable temperature, and can serious increase your utility bills. A simple monthly cleaning is all it takes to keep these filters breathing free and clear.

Here’s how: Disposable filters can be vaccumed once before replacement. Foam filters can also be vaccumed, but they don’t need to be replaced unless they are damaged. Use a soft brush on a vacuum cleaner. If the filter is metal or electrostatic, remove and wash it with a firm water spray.

Give your furnace a physical. Once a year, it’s a good idea to have your heating system inspected by a professional. To avoid the last-minute rush, consider scheduling this task in early fall, before the heating season begins.

Here are signs that you should have an inspection performed sooner:

Noisy belts. Unusual screeches or whines may be a signal that belts connected to the blower motor are worn or damaged.

Poor performance. A heating system that doesn’t seem to work as well as it once did could be a sign of various problems. Your heating ducts might be blocked, the burners might be misadjusted, or the blower motor could be on its last legs. One check you should be sure to conduct: Make sure your furnace filter is clean.

Erratic behavior. This could be caused by a faulty thermostat or a misadjusted furnace.

Gather round the hearth. Even if you use your fireplace only occasionally, you should check it annually for damage and hazards.

Inspect your flue for creosote. Creosote is a flammable by-product of burning wood. If it accumulates in a flue or chimney, the result can be a devastating fire. Have your chimney inspected annually for creosote buildup. If you use a fireplace or wood stove frequently, have the flue inspected after each cord of wood burned.

For most people, the best option is to have your entire chimney system inspected by a chimney sweep. Once you know what to look for, you can perform the inspection by shining a bright flashlight up the flue, looking for any deposits approaching 1/8 inch thick. These deposits should be cleaned by an experienced chimney sweep.

Look for flue blockages. Birds love to nest at the top of an unprotected flue. A chimney cap can prevent this from happening. If you don’t have a cap, look up the flu to ensure that there are no obstructions.

Exercise the damper. The damper is the metal plate that opens and closes the flu just above the firebox. Move it to the open and closed positions to ensure that it is working properly.

Check your chimney for damage. Make certain that the flue cap (the screen or baffle covering the top of the chimney) is in place. Inspect brick chimneys for loose or broken joints. If access is a problem, use binoculars.

Keep the humidifier humming. You may know that bone dry winter air is bad for your health, but did you also know it can make fine wood more prone to cracking? You and your home will feel more comfortable if you keep your central humidifier in tip-top shape during the months it is running.

Here’s how: First, inspect the plates or pads, and if necessary, clean them in a strong laundry detergent solution. Rinse and scrape off mineral deposits with a wire brush or steel wool.

Head-off gas problems. Keeping a gas heater in good shape is both a safety and a cost issue. An improperly maintained heater can spew poisons into the air of your home, or it may simply be costing you more to operate. Have a professional check these devices annually. There are also some maintenance items you should address.

Here’s how: First, shut off the heater. Then check the air-shutter openings and exhaust vents for dirt and dust. If they are dirty, vacuum the air passages to the burner and clean the burner of lint and dirt. Follow the manufacturer’s advice for any other needed maintenance.

Keep the wood fires burning brightly. Woodburning stoves are a great way to add atmosphere and warmth to your home. But regular inspections are needed to ensure that these devices don’t become a safety hazard. Here’s how to check them.

Inspect stovepipes. Cracks in stovepipes attached to wood stoves can release toxic fumes into your home. Throughout the heating season, you should check for corrosion, holes, or loose joints. Clean the stovepipe, and then look for signs of deterioration or looseness. Replace stovepipe if necessary.

Look for corrosion and cracks. Check for signs of rust or cracking in the stove’s body or legs.

Check safety features. Make sure that any required wall protection is installed according to the manufacturer’s specifications and that the unit sits on an approved floor material. If you have young children, be sure to fence off the stove when it is in operation.

At least once a year, do a top-to-bottom review of your home’s safety features. This is also a good time to get the family together for a review of your fire evacuation plan. Here’s how to do this:

Smoke and CO detectors. Replace the batteries in each smoke and carbon monoxide (CO) detector, then vacuum them with a soft brush attachment. Test the detectors by pressing the test button or holding a smoke source (like a blown-out candle) near the unit. If you haven’t already, install a smoke detector on every floor of your home, including the basement.

Fire extinguishers. Every home should have at least one fire extinguisher rated for all fire types (look for an A-B-C rating on the label). At a minimum, keep one near the kitchen; having one per floor isn’t a bad idea. Annually, check the indicator on the pressure gauge to make sure the extinguisher is charged. Make certain that the lock pin is intact and firmly in place, and check that the discharge nozzle is not clogged. Clean the extinguisher and check it for dents, scratches, and corrosion. Replace if the damage seems severe. Note: Fire extinguishers that are more than six years old should be replaced. Mark the date of purchase on the new unit with a permanent marker.

Fire escape plans. Every bedroom, including basement bedrooms, should have two exit paths. Make sure windows aren’t blocked by furniture or other items. Ideally, each upper-floor bedroom should have a rope ladder near the window for emergency exits. Review what to do in case of fire, and arrange a safe meeting place for everyone away from the house.

General cleanup. Rid your home of accumulations of old newspapers and leftover hazardous household chemicals. (Check with your state or local Environmental Protection Agency about the proper way to discard dangerous chemicals.) Store flammable materials and poisons in approved, clearly labeled containers. Keep a clear space around heaters, furnaces, and other heat-producing appliances.

Source: Better Homes and Gardens

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House of Horrors: 6 Things a Home Inspector Might Not Catch

bathroom shark attack

Before buying into a monthly mortgage payment, 77% of home buyers hire an inspector to go through their new digs with a fine-toothed comb. This is a very good idea.

That extra set of eyes gives buyers peace of mind that a new house won’t have a leaky roof or cracked foundation. Or something even worse. But what you might not realize is that countless conundrums go unnoticed during a home inspection simply because the inspector doesn’t look for them.

And those undetected flaws could add up to expensive repairs.

Here’s the deal: Home inspectors aren’t regulated by federal guidelines. Each state has its own licensing and/or certification requirements. They vary from Texas, whichrequires 130 classroom hours of real estate inspection training, to Georgia, which requires an inspector have a business license and a letter of recommendation—and little else.

That means home buyers have to do their own homework to make sure they’re working with a reputable and thorough inspector. Make sure to verify an inspector’s references and ask to review the checklist of items covered during an inspection.

And, once you’ve done that, ask your inspector to check for these budget busters.

Runny appliances

If you’re buying a home for the first time, you’re probably swooning over the idea of having your own washer/dryer or dishwasher. And to make sure your new BFF won’t break—and break your heart—an inspector should run these kind of appliances to check for functionality and leaks.

But inspectors don’t always go over all the bells and whistles on appliances.

“Checking the water dispenser for issues on a fridge isn’t standard,” says Tom Kraeutler, a former home inspector, author of “My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide to Every Home Improvement Adventure,” and a syndicated radio host.

That oversight could mean you walk into a flooded kitchen if the seal on the water dispenser is faulty or the ice machine springs a leak.

Leaky faucets

To put a home’s plumbing through its paces, all faucets should be turned on; toilets should be flushed multiple times; and drain pipes—even if they’re under the house—checked for leaks while the water is running.

When it comes to sinks, the faucets need to be run long enough to fill them before draining in order to spot a leaky pipe or drain. In the shower, an inspector will need to block the drain pan with a washcloth or rubber jar opener and fill the shower to the top of the “pan” or floor, The water should sit for 15 to 20 minutes to test for leaks in the drain, Kraeutler says.

“That also helps spot if the shower pan is faulty, which is a super-expensive fix,” he says.

Another thing: Leaky shower tiles happen when gaps form in the tile grout or caulk. And they show up only when wet. To simulate showering, the inspector needs to splash his hands under the water and check the integrity of grout and caulk.

Cracked sewage and drainage pipes

Home inspections are always limited to what is visible and accessible, Kraeutler says. So cracks in underground or buried pipes and drain lines will be checked only if your inspector conducts a camera inspection.

That in-depth look into your drain will cost you extra. But the additional few hundred dollars are a drop in the bucket compared to the thousands you’ll shell out repairing or replacing faulty sewage and drainage pipes.

Corroded central air conditioning

Did you know that air-conditioning units can’t be tested in certain temperatures?

It has to be at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit outside in order to run a unit—temperatures lower than that can cause damage to the air conditioner, Kraeutler says. That means inspections done in cool temperatures could have an inspector ignoring the AC altogether.

So if it’s too cold to run the unit, ask your inspector how he looks for potential problems. You’ll want to make sure the inspector examines all connections and looks for signs of damage, says Will Hawkins, owner of All Pro Drain in Austin, TX.

And, if the temperature is 55 or higher, make sure the AC is run for several hours to test the functioning of the unit’s condenser coil.

“We’ve had customers notice condensation or water seeping through the walls in a few hours [of turning on the air conditioner] or overnight,” Hawkins says. “And unless the AC is run for several hours, that’s something a home inspector would be hard pressed to see during his run-through.”

Dangerous DIY improvements

It might be tempting to spruce up your home with some DIY projects before putting it on the market. But if those home improvements are completed with low-quality materials or not installed properly, a buyer could face an exorbitant—and unexpected—renovation.

A DIY renovation could be dangerous, too. If a basement or attic is finished without proper permits, electrical and plumbing work might not be up to code. And that could mean potential damage—or even danger—to the residents.

Although many home inspectors check for construction permits with the local municipality, Kraeutler suggests verifying that step isn’t overlooked.

Damp porches, decks, and balconies

You might not think of decks and balconies as sources of expensive leaks. But costs of damage can surge up to $100,000, according to Bill Leys, owner of Division 7 Waterproofing Consultants and a deck inspector in San Luis Obispo, CA.

“A deck or balcony can also have serious safety issues and be at risk of collapse,” he says.

Asking your inspector about cracks, rusted flashing, and soft areas around drains can help keep water from seeping into your home.

One final tip: Most home inspections are performed at least two months before closing. A lot can change in that time—especially if a house is vacant, Kraeutler says. Consider having a follow-up inspection the day of (or no earlier than the day before) closing to ensure you’re not purchasing a money pit. 

Source: Realtor.com by Gina Roberts-Grey has been covering real estate news since 2000

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Legal battle pushing Vaughan homeowner into poverty

Sydney Walters in the backyard of his Vaughan home. Walters' home is now vacant, and he lives in a rented apartment as the home is now contaminated with mould and inhabitable.

Sydney Walters in the backyard of his Vaughan home. Walters’ home is now vacant, and he lives in a rented apartment as the home is now contaminated with mould and inhabitable.

Every weekend, Sydney Walters spends hours mowing the lawn, and cleaning up the yard of a home he owns but hasn’t lived in for years.

His family fled the semi-detached home in Vaughan four years ago, when mould spread in his home due to the missing insulation in the attic. But he returns to the home every few days, to keep it looking habitable.

“I don’t want it to look unkempt,” said Walters. “It’s a beautiful house from the outside, but inside it is hell.”

The Vaughan resident says it breaks his heart when he sees the neighbours near his home on Hollywood Hill Circle sitting on their decks, enjoying the weather and holding barbecues with their families and friends.

Sydney Walters pulls a lawn mower over the grass in his Vaughan home's yard.

COLE BURSTON/TORONTO STAR

Sydney Walters pulls a lawn mower over the grass in his Vaughan home’s yard.

“That should be me. That should be my family,” said Walters. “But instead, we are on the verge of losing everything.”

For Walters, “everything” refers to the home he bought in 2004, in the hopes of giving his family a taste of the suburban dream. But it’s a dream that has become entangled in a web of lawsuits, that Walters says have brought him to the brink of bankruptcy and will soon cost him the only asset he has.

In the meantime, Walters has been living in a cramped one-bedroom basement apartment a street away, with his wife and teenage son — who sleeps on the couch. The burden of paying for and running two households is proving to be just too much.

“I’m still paying my mortgage, and we pay almost a thousand dollars to rent this,” said Walters, pointing at the small apartment around him. “Our monthly insurance fee is so high. It’s just a matter of time before the bank will take possession of the house,” he said.

The Star profiled Walters in 2012, when he was living in a tent in the backyard of his home because of the mould inside. He had just filed a lawsuit against the city of Vaughan, the builder Villa Royale Homes Inc., and Tarion Warranty Corporation — alleging the parties are responsible for the damage to his home as a result of the bare attic and should be responsible for the costs of the cleanup.

In 2013, Walters initiated a new lawsuit against the parties, seeking $2 million in damages to their home and personal injuries. The lawsuit has sparked a handful of others, with the city suing the builder and the builder suing the city, the original homeowners and a subcontractor, who in turn sued the insulation company.

With the agreement of all parties, the claims against Tarion and the insulation company were dropped after recent mediation.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

Since then, the case has hit a standstill as nobody can agree on who is at fault. And each party Walters is suing says the other should pay, if a judge rules in his favour. Court mandated mediation failed in June. Walters’s lawyer, Wendy Greenspoon-Soer, says the case is headed to trial early next year.

 “Our monthly insurance fee is so high. It’s just a matter of time before the bank will take possession of the house,” Walters said.

COLE BURSTON/TORONTO STAR

“Our monthly insurance fee is so high. It’s just a matter of time before the bank will take possession of the house,” Walters said.

According to the lawsuit, Walters and his wife Olivia bought the home in 2004 for $320,000 from the original homeowner, who bought the new build in 2002.

As first time buyers, Walters admits he was naïve. Because it was only two years old, he moved in without a home inspection. He dutifully paid heating bills — upwards of $400 a month — even though he noticed the home was “extremely hot during summer months and extremely cold during the winter months, with poor ventilation and ice buildup where the walls meet the roof,” according to the suit.

In the winter, when he turned up the furnace, heat would escape through the top and melt the snow and cause leaks. In the summer, the house was hot, and the mould began to grow and spread because of the moisture.

According to his claim, the family began to have health issues, and specialists and doctors advised Walters and his family to move elsewhere. Even now, he says he enters the home only if he’s wearing protective gear.

Walters complained to the city after a contractor he hired said the attic lacked insulation. During legal examination in 2011, notes from a city of Vaughan building inspector confirmed that “no attic ceiling insulation” was ever installed.

As a result of the investigation, the city of Vaughan sent Walters and Villa Royale an order to complete the insulation in 2011.

In a statement of defence, the city claims any damages should have been rectified by Walters, and that he has “exacerbated their own damages by suing Vaughan rather than fixing the problem.” They also say the damages were caused by the negligence of Villa Royale. Vaughan cites an independent contractor who said the cleanup and repair would cost around $15,000.

In the reply to defence, Walters says his house will need to be completely demolished and rebuilt. He blames the builder for not installing the insulation and the city building inspector for failing to ensure it met the Ontario Building Code.

Neither Villa Royale nor its lawyer responded to a request for comment for this story. Last week, days after the Star started asking questions about the matter, Vaughan’s legal counsel sent Walters a settlement offer “to retain and pay a contractor to complete interior repairs to his home… including the installation of attic insulation.”

Walters said he can’t comment on the offer.

Since 2011, Walters says he has gathered documents that try to find answers to how his house was approved, if insulation was never installed. A city document Walters obtained through an Access to Information request show a city inspector approved the home, including its insulation, a day after the house was sold. Normally, a home must pass city inspection before it is cleared for sale.

The city did not respond to questions about whether any internal investigation was conducted as a result of Walters’ 2011 complaint, as is required by the building inspector’s code of conduct protocol created in 2005.

The city of Vaughan said it could not comment on the matter because it’s before the courts.

“Our family, we are living in poverty. We are not poor. We are hard-working people, but we have no money. We go to bed hungry some nights,” said Walters, his eyes wet with tears. “We have a house, but we are living in these substandard conditions,” he said.

“That is just not right.”

Source: Toronto Star By: News reporter, Published on Wed Aug 19 2015

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