It was supposed to be their retirement dream home, but now an elderly Alberta couple say they are trapped living in a dangerous construction zone.
There is only one way in and out of Russell and Helen Lakusta’s house in Thorhild County — crossing a plywood bridge in the garage. It’s difficult and dangerous for the seniors — both 86 — especially Helen, who uses a walker to get around.
“My wife fell on it, broke her arm,” said Russell Lakusta. “I fell on it and got a concussion.”
The bridge was put in place to cover a massive hole that was dug in the garage and fenced off with a danger sign. Another hole along the foundation outside the home was also fenced off — cutting off access to the front door.
“You walk through here you get scared when you look down,” Lakusta said.
“It’s a 10-foot drop — it’s scary.”
The Lakustas moved into their modular home in Buffalo Lake Estates, near Redwater, in October 2016. By the next summer, Lakusta said a basement wall had caved in.
Crews dug the holes to pinpoint the problem and an engineer’s inspection report pointed to a faulty foundation and said it must be replaced.
That hasn’t happened yet and the Lakustas fear their home will never get fixed.
“I get sick to my stomach,” Lakusta said.
“We retired hoping we’d have our last few years here and it’s sure not panning out that way.”
Lakusta thought his insurance with The Alberta New Home Warranty Program would cover the repairs, but said he was told he’d be paid a lump sum and would have to hire his own contractors.
Lakusta said the foundation replacement quotes he gathered were much higher than the insurance pay out — and he doesn’t have the energy to tackle a huge repair job himself.
He was also told if he started doing any work to his basement it would cancel his insurance.
“It says to me they don’t care. They are just waiting for us to pass on, I guess.”
Scott Hamilton, with The Alberta New Home Warranty Program refused to comment on the specific case, but said, “At this time the Alberta courts have referred the matter to the legislated resolution process mandated by section 519 of the Insurance Act.”
“The ANHWP is the market leader for warranty protection and we are committed to ensure that fair and reasonable outcomes the New Home Buyers Protection Act is intended to provide.”
The Lakustas said there is nothing fair about being left in limbo. “We would like to have new home warranty get a contractor and finish the work they started and fix our basement.”
“We can’t go on much longer,” Lakusta said.
“At our age we sure didn’t expect to have this problem.”